Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Portland School District Cost Structure

I originally posted this on another blog, BlueOregon.com, but now that I have my own blog, it made sense to paste it in here.

The biggest question facing the Portland School District is: Why does PPS have significantly higher per-student spending than other metro area school districts, and what are the plans to reduce the district's cost structure so that it can survive without program cuts on what we can expect to be the 3% or so annual increase in per-student revenues from all sources?

For this school year, the district's all funds budget is $577 million. This number, of course, includes several line items that should not be counted if we are trying to honestly arrive at the answer to the question "what does the school district spend per student."

To get an accurate answer, we must do the following: 1) Back out any ending fund balances, because this $$ is not spent.2) Back out any inter-fund transfers, because this $$ is double counted.3) back out any capital expenditures, because they are paid out of debt service, and to count both cap exp and debt service would double count.

This results in an actual all funds spending for PPS this year of $522,604,501. Divide that by the # of students (ADMr of 44,301.8) and we get PPS all funds spending per student of $11,796.46

Doing the same calculation for other metro area school districts, we get the following:

  • Reynolds spends $9,918.95 per student, 16% Lower than PPS
  • Gresham spends $9,190.03 per student, 22% lower than PPS
  • Hillsboro spends $8,899.40 per student, 25% lower than PPS
  • Beaverton spends $10,093.37 per student, 14% lower than PPS
  • N. Clackamas spends $9,549.30 per student, 19% lower than PPS.
Why is Portland so much more expensive? Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT demographics (% ESL, Special Ed, low income).

Here are the comparative demographics for these districts:

  • PPS: 11.7% ESL, 11% special ed, 17.2% students in poverty
  • Beaverton: 11.6% ESL, 11% special ed, 10.1% students in poverty
  • Hillsboro: 16.2% ESL, 11% special ed, 10.5% students in poverty
  • Reynolds: 23% ESL, 11% special ed, 21.3% students in poverty
  • Gresham: 8.9% ESL, 11% special ed, 11% students in poverty
  • N. Clackamas: 10.4% ESL, 11% special ed, 10.4% students in poverty

So, my question for Dr. Phillips (and for anyone who thinks that PPS' problems are due to lack of funding) is this: How are you going to reduce your cost structure?
(All of this data is for the 2004-05 school year, and is available to anyone right off the ODE web site.)

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