More money isn’t the answer

Jun 17, 2018 by

The McCleary decision was reported as satisfied when the Washington State Supreme Court met several weeks ago. The Justices, in their infinite wisdom, decreed that the State has pumped enough money in to correct the inequities. The State has also allocated, as part of the judgement, another $1 billion for teachers salaries.

Some will argue even more money is needed. Others will say that the State needs to provide more money for “special needs” or that the State should provide funds for building construction rather than leaving that to local districts. Yet others will say no amount of money will solve issues.

So, how much money is enough? Does more money = better outcomes?

In our own backyard we have the Portland School District. In an article at OregonLive titled: Portland Public Schools spending ranks high among big U.S. districts Betsy Hammond at The Oregonian shares expenditure numbers per student for the latest accessible report period (2015-16) for PPS compared to other big spenders across the U.S. What does she find? PPS was in the Top 20 spenders (actually #18) for school districts…with among the worst results.

Money alone doesn’t solve problems. Leadership; thin bureaucracy; AND engaged parents are the keys. Give the article a read.

Portland Public Schools spent $12,400 per student during 2015-16, putting Oregon’s largest district among the Top 20 biggest spenders among large U.S. school districts, new federal figures show.

Portland’s per-student spending ranked No. 18, barely behind that of Los Angeles and just ahead of Fresno and San Francisco, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, released Monday.

Among the nation’s 100 largest school districts, New York City spent the most — $24,100 per student — and a cluster of four Utah district spent the least, just $6,200 to $7,000 per student. The largest of the four, Alpine School District just north of Provo, spent $6,300 per student, the bureau reported.

Portland’s No. 18 ranking was driven in part by relatively high spending on pupil support services, which includes counseling, nurses, school psychologists and speech pathologists, and the high cost of employee benefits.

Almost half the districts that outspent Portland were in Maryland or Virginia, either in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., or in and around Baltimore. Those districts spent $13,200 to $15,500 per student.

In the West, only Seattle ($13,400) and Los Angeles ($13,200) spent more than Portland, the bureau reported.

The report detailed spending only in the nation’s 100 largest school districts. Portland Public Schools ranked No. 100 by enrollment that year.  No other Oregon district made the cut.

Eleven of the 12 California districts with enrollments larger than Portland spent less per student.

Here are the Top 20 spenders for 2015-16, according to the Census Bureau:

New York City                 $24,100

Boston                            $22,100

Howard County, Md.     $15,500

Montgomery Co., Md.   $15,200

Baltimore                        $15,200

Prince Georges Co, Md. $14,900

Columbus, Ohio             $14,600

Fairfax County, Va.         $14,000

Hawaii                             $13,800

Baltimore County           $13,500

Atlanta                             $13,500

Chicago                           $13,500

Loudoun County, Va.      $13,400

Seattle                            $13,400

Los Angeles                   $13,200

Anne Arundel Co., Md  $13,200

Milwaukee                     $12,700

Portland                         $12,400

Fresno                             $12,300

Omaha                           $12,300

— Betsy Hammond


Source: More money isn’t the answer

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