RE: Cost of Government – Schools

To my recent post that featured a table of the Cost/Resident to foot the payroll for their local public schools, Thomas Schmeling commented:

It’s probably also useful to recognize that some communities have higher proportions of children than others so that, even if two communities are spending the same amount per resident, they might be spending different amounts per student.

I agree. So here are a couple more tables that help to illustrate that difference.

First, here is the data ranked by Cost/Student (I used 2006-2007 numbers to coincide with the 2006 government payroll numbers provided by the ProJo). The Statewide average is in blue, the mean in orange(-ish):


Second, here is a comparison of the various “cost pers”:


Finally, here is a chart showing the differential between the Cost/Student and Cost/Resident. A negative number means that, relative to how the districts compare to each other, the Cost/Student for a given municipality is less than the Cost/Resident, a positive indicates the opposite.


So what does all of this mean? Tough to tell. So I added one more component by calculating the ratio of residents per student for each district. Here’s how that looks, with the differential number included.


Generally speaking, the fewer residents that support each student, the bigger the differential between a districts relative rank in the cost/student and cost/resident ratios.

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16 years ago

OK, I’m a little confused. I thought Central Falls Schools were run by and paid for by the state. Your table makes it look like there is a great disparity in what’s spent. May be worthwhile adding a cost to the rest of the state’s residents column and then a total cost per student, which I guess would include the local school budget plus any and all grants the town/city winkle out of other state and federal entities. I think what will emerge is that there is a great disparity in what various school districts spend using OPM – other people’s money. I’m not sure you’ll have an easy time of getting these numbers, as they go against the agenda of people like Cicilline, who is looking for more OPM.

16 years ago

Chuck, That’s a valid point, but Central Falls is a unique situation. For that matter, another unique situation is New Shoreham (Block Island), which comes out on top (I think) in every category based on cost/resident.
Remember, this is a general overview based on the ProJo’s research. I’ve done what I can to try to elaborate and you’re suggestions are also worth considering. And if I have/get the time, maybe I will be able to drill down further.

16 years ago

I didn’t mean to make work for you. My comment was prompted by a recollection of a RIPEC study of 2001(?) vintage that showed that total expenditures per pupil were much closer than what you could get from looking at local funding only. It can’t be said too often that Providence uses OPM for about 50% of their local school budget and that they are aggressively looking for even more OPM. I think it was actually 56% and I adjusted it back to 50% to reflect return of state taxes to Prov residents.
It certainly would be better if we had only a few 20K to 25K pupil sized school districts. But I wouldn’t want to participate in any school district that included Providence or any other municipal rent seekers. I know I’m not alone, and we taxpayers have jointly decided that higher overhead is better than loss of control to bigger and worse entities.

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