Parent Responds to Changes in U.S. DOE Special Ed AccountabilityMay 31, 2012
Once Again, Willingboro vs. MoorestownJune 1, 2012
The NJ DOE released the 2010-2011 School Report Cards yesterday, with a few new bells and whistles. One new feature is accurate graduation rates, previously self-reported by individual districts; another spotlights the cost per pupil when other costs – mandated preschools, out-of-district tuition, debt, transportation – are added to the mix.
(Weirdly, Trenton Public Schools is missing from the database.)
Here’s a rundown of local coverage, which is primarily focused on school costs.
Total cost per pupil for K-12 districts [without the new add-ins] dropped to $17,469, from $17,885 the year before. In turn, the ratio of students to faculty rose, especially with administrators where there were close to 190 students for each supervisor.
Still salaries didn’t appear to much slow, with the average teacher salary rising slightly to $63,800, with 10 years experience, and $119,500 for administrators, with 19 years.
Not surprisingly, local taxpayers bore a greater share of the expenses, too, paying about 52 percent of the total costs. Interestingly, the state share rose slightly to 42 percent, but the big hit was a drop in the federal share from 9 percent to 3 percent, a reflection of the loss of federal stimulus funds.
The Star-Ledger examines the Total Cost Per Pupil category, i.e., the one with all the add-ins, quoting David Sciarra, head of the Education Law Center, who called the data “patently wrong and misleading” and charged that “The Christie Administration will do just about anything to promote the myth we spend too much to educate our children.”
The Record takes the same angle:
In Paramus, for example, interim Superintendent Joseph Lupo said there was “no way in the world” that his district spends $22,916 per pupil or that it had spent substantially more than in the previous year. The new report card said the district spent an average of $18,354 in the 2009-10 school year to educate each of its students. Lupo said his district had since cut costs for salaries, benefits and transportation. He said his data on enrollment did not match the report card either.
“Quite honestly I don’t understand it,” Lupo said. “I find it very difficult to believe it went from $18,000 to $22,000 at a time we’ve been cutting and moving in the opposite direction.”
The Press of Atlantic City sticks to a quote from Ed. Comm. Chris Cerf:
“While these report cards provide some helpful information to parents, the general public and school administrators, the department has long acknowledged that we can do a much better job,” acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said in a statement. “We are moving to a new School Performance Report next year that will provide unprecedented data on how our schools are doing.”