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

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twitter

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.

EVAN BRANDT — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA GRAPHIC

Source: Pennsylvania Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion

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