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Buffalo #3 in highest spending per students among large districts

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 Pasciak

facebook.com/mary.pasciak     twitter.com/MaryPasciak    [email protected]
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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee | [email protected]


Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes | [email protected]


Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone | [email protected]


Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB | [email protected]

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