A recent study of spending per student in the biggest school districts in the U.S. found that Buffalo is out-spent only by Washington, D.C., and Newark, N.J.
The Center for Governmental Research in Rochester analyzed the 285 districts in the country with 25,000 or more students, using 2010 numbers.
Here's the list of the 10 districts spending the most per student:
1. Washington, D.C. - $29,409
2. Newark, N.J. - $28,642
3. Buffalo, N.Y. - $26,903
4. New York City - $24,780
5. Jersey City, N.J. - $24,511
6. Pittsburgh, Pa. - $22,625
7. Rochester, N.Y. - $20,984
8. Cincinnati, Ohio - $20,860
9. Boston, Mass. - $20,262
10. Cleveland, Ohio - $19,354
Clearly, there are plenty of different ways to calculate spending per student. It all depends which expenditures you count in the total (for instance, whether you include just the general fund budget or include grant spending, as well), and how many students you count (primarily, whether you count all district and charter school students, or just district students).
There are different reasons you might use one number or another -- what's important, in any case, is that you are consistent in using the same figures for all districts, when you're comparing across districts.
So, in the interest of addressing any confusion the numbers might cause, let me clarify: the number that CGR cited for Buffalo is slightly higher than the one the Buffalo News generally cites, which is about $23,000 per student ($22,727, to be exact, according to the most recent figures available).
What seems interesting about the CGR study is how Buffalo compares to other districts, especially those in New York State. (District comparisons can sometimes get tricky when you're looking at different states, since every state handles its reporting slightly differently.) The Buffalo News every year compares per student spending in Western New York, but does not look at districts across the state.
Rochester is about the same size as Buffalo, in terms of the number of students, and the demographics of the district are also very similar. Buffalo spent $6,000 more per student than Rochester, according to the CGR study - in other words, 28 percent more per student.
Across the country, CGR found that districts with at least one-fourth of their students living in poverty spent an average of $15,000 per student, compared to an average of $10,800 for the rest of the large districts in the study.
The district spending the least was Meridian, Idaho, at $6,871 per student.
For the full list of districts in the study, go to www.govistics.com. Under Latest News, click on Excel Tables. Once the spreadsheet opens, click on the tab called Full Table.
- Mary Pasciakfacebook.com/mary.pasciak twitter.com/MaryPasciak firstname.lastname@example.org