July 30, 2009
NY schools top nation in per-pupil spending
Area schools spent from $12,000 to $17,000 on each student in the 2006-07 school year
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Dryden fifth-grader Shiann Kelly is helped by her teacher Julianna VanSant in May during a multimedia lesson to reinforce classroom lessons about the American Revolution.
Schools in New York state spent more money per pupil in the 2006-07 school year than schools in any other state, according to the data released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau.
New York state schools spent on average $15,981 per pupil in 2006-07, which is 65 percent higher than the national average of $9,666.
The Census Bureau’s data includes salaries and wages and employee benefits for instruction and pupil support, staff support, general administration and school administration for support services.
Costs per pupil include local property taxes, state funding and any other funding sources schools use.
The average cost per pupil amount released by the Census Bureau is lower than the amount released by the state Education Department in March.
The 2008 New York State District Report Cards showed that public schools in the state spent on average $17,330 per student in the 2006-07 school year.
The 2006-07 school year is the most recent data the state has released on expenditures per pupil.
About 5 percent of public education funding in the state’s schools comes from federal sources, 45 percent from state aid and grants, and 50 percent from local revenue, Tom Dunn, spokesman for the state Education Department said in an e-mail.
About 90 percent of the local revenue comes from local property taxes, Dunn said.
Because most of the revenue comes from local sources and most spending decisions are made at the local level, the amount spent per pupil is not set by the state, he said.
In its most recent state aid proposal to the state Legislature, the Board of Regents recommended reducing education costs through mandate relief, increasing the use of shared services through BOCES and supporting approaches that would slow the growth of costly special education programs, Dunn said.
Marathon Superintendent of Schools Tim Turecek said Marathon Central School District, which had the lowest costs per pupil of these districts, has to spend less money per pupil than other local districts because it has a smaller tax base.
“We’ve always had to make a habit of getting more with less, and we’ve gotten good at it,” Turecek said after the report cards were released in March.
He said that districts with greater populations, more income and higher assessed home values spend more.
“That’s part of the inequality in the state aid formula,” Turecek said. “Every child in New York state does not have an equal amount of resources directed toward their education.”
Dryden Superintendent of Schools Sandy Sherwood said the Dryden district, which spent $15,242 per pupil, is looking for ways to reduce costs through a strategic planning process it started two years ago.
“I haven’t heard a lot of concern about the quality of the education they’re getting, Sherwood said. “I do think everybody’s questioning how we can lower our operating costs,” Sherwood said.
Declining enrollment in the district is contributing to the rise in the cost of educating a student, Sherwood said. The Board of Education cut 6.5 full-time equivalent teachers and three support staff in the 2009-10 school budget in response to the declining enrollment, Sherwood said.
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