Reimagining Education

DESE set to release school-level spending data

Is your child getting the same funding as other students in your district?

Parents will finally have an answer next week.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is updating both building-level and district-wide report cards on Dec. 12 with building-level expenditure data.

The new data is required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

DESE Deputy Commissioner Roger Dorson said the new data would help to assure equity in schools.

“It’s an opportunity for us to assure that students have equitable access to resources and opportunities,” he said.

Parents can compare how much is being spent per pupil at every school in a district. They can also compare expenditures to surrounding districts.

Parents can use that data to see if there are correlations between how much is spent per pupil and a wide variety of factors including:

  • student performance
  • dropout rates
  • student mobility

The new data will likely raise a number of questions.

In an example presented to the state Board of Education this week, one district had an over $1,000 difference in per-pupil spending between two elementary schools.

The new data should unearth disparities like that. DESE officials recommended comparing high-spending but low-performance schools to low-spending and high-performing schools. Such a comparison could highlight areas for improvement.

How DESE gets the per-pupil number for each school

The building-level per-pupil spending data set be released is a combination of spending data.

The data includes concrete numbers on per-pupil spending “> reported at the building-level. Dorson said most of this spending is based on the cost of instruction.

The final building-level spending data released next week will also include district-wide expanses like central office employees.

DESE is calculating these numbers by dividing the total district-wide expense by the total number of students enrolled at each school in September.

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