Data: About 70% of school spending goes into the classroom
Owen J. Roberts district tied for having the highest percentage of total expenses going into instruction
We all know school taxes are the biggest slice of the tax bill pie, but how much of that money actually makes its way to the classroom in our local districts?
The answer — according to a searchable database built by The Morning Call newspaper of Allentown with data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education — is about 70 percent.
Using Department of Education data from the 2014-2015 school year, the newspaper assembled a statewide map with statistics for all 500 Pennsylvania school districts.
One of the more interesting statistics is an efficiency measurement called “actual instructional expenses.”
“Think of it as the cost of running a school minus transportation, health, financing, and special, vocational and other programs,” is how The Morning Call described AIE.
In the chart that accompanies this article, that column is labeled “Actual Instructional Spending.” Dividing that by the number of students in the district gives you an estimate of how much any particular district spends per student on actual education.
This instructional-spending-per-student figure for all area districts fell within a range of $8,371 — the actual instructional spending per student in Daniel Boone School District and the lowest in the area — and $11,409, which is the actual instruction spending per student in Phoenixville Area School District and the highest in the area.
At 48 percent, Daniel Boone was also the only district in the area which spent less than 50 percent of its total budget on instructional expenses during that school year, according to the figures.
At 70 percent, Owen J. Roberts, Pottsgrove and Upper Perkiomen districts tied for having the highest percentage of total expenses going into instruction, although most other districts — with the exception of Daniel Boone — were just a few percentage points behind.
In terms of total budget for the 2014-15 school year, Spring-Ford’s $135.7 million budget was higher than 95 percent of all other districts in Pennsylvania.
Upper Perkiomen’s budget was the lowest in the region that year, at $51 million, but still higher than 68 percent of the state’s other school district budgets.
A few things the data shows but our chart does not, are other non-instruction expenses, such as administration, transportation and non-instructional personnel, and how those compare statewide.
In terms of administra- tion, all nine districts fell between 4 percent and 6 percent of total budget expenses.
Similarly, all fell between 4 percent and 8 percent of total budget expenses going to non-instructional personnel. Daniel Boone had the low, 4 percent, and Perkiomen Valley had the high, at 8 percent of total expenses.
Spending for transportation and other miscellaneous expenses was a bit higher.
They ranged from a low of 11 percent in Daniel Boone, which is currently struggling with some kindergarten transportation problems, to a high of 18 percent of total spending in Owen J. Roberts.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education