Comparative School Costs

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Editor:

A number of us are concerned about K-12 school costs, and some are concerned about our school costs and the costs of other school systems.

A CATO report “They Spend What?” details the real cost of public schools and indicates to me that we are wasting our time using available public figures, to attempt to make any comparisons.

We would all be better employed in finding out what our own school costs truly are.

The CATO report is essentially a study doing just that for three school districts in six metropolitan areas of the U.S. The real costs per district range from 3 percent higher than stated to 151 percent higher than stated.

Perhaps more important, from the standpoint of inter-school or inter-state comparison, the real costs range from 4 percent higher to 89 percent higher than the National Center for Education Statistics figures that are commonly used for school-to-school or state-to-state comparisons.

This gets to the heart of the problem. We have all been spending too much time worrying about who is spending how much?

We should be concentrating on finding out who is learning how much? After we get a system that gives some fairly accurate data on that question, we get to the heart of the matter.

What systems are used to get the better results and what of that is transferable to our schools? In the meantime, our guide for each of our school systems is in bold print on page 3 of the CATO report “Step One for Saving Money: Know How Much You Spend.”

While we are finding out which teaching systems attain the best results, we should simultaneously be continuing work on reducing our present present real school costs. Most of us are already deep in this process from sheer necessity. The money just isn’t there, anymore.

I am sure we will find that good schools and less expensive schools are not mutually exclusive.

Dan Adams

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