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slides: Report: Hidden Cost For RI Schools Tops $2,500 Per Pupil

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

 

Rhode Island spends an average of nearly $2,800 per student for school employee benefits, according to data released by the Rhode Island Department of Education.  

The report, which covers data for the 2010-11 school year and was issued by InfoWorks!, reflects the total per pupil expenditure amount for both current employee medical benefits as well as retiree benefits, and includes other benefits such as life insurance, tuition reimbursement, uniform allowance, and other miscellaneous items.

In total, 52 Local Education Agencies (LEAs), which encompass school districts as well as public charter schools, were listed in the rankings.

Topping the list was Newport at $5,248 per pupil, followed by Davies, Jamestown, Johnston, Central Falls, Narragansett, South Kingstown, and Bristol-Warren. Providence ranked ninth at $3,255.

To check your local expenditures and compare them to other communities in Rhode island, use the interactive tool, here. 

Rhode Island Department of Education spokesperson Elliot Krieger refered to the release of data along these lines as part of RIDE's strategic plan for transforming education in Rhode Island. "We are committed to investing our resources wisely to improve learning and achievement," he said. "We encourage all communities to look at and use these reports and other data in the Uniform Chart of Accounts for guidance and information about revenue and expenditures."

During the same time period, the total per pupil expenditure per LEA, which does not include the employee benefits, totalled $15,172 per student, which means that the average employee benefit liability per LEA equated to nearly 20% of per-pupil spending. However, this figure varied widely among communities.

What does the extra spending achieve? 

"This data shows high per pupil expenditures do not necessarily translate into the highest performing school districts," said Donna Perry, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition. "It's notable that the largest city school systems, including Providence and Warwick, have among the highest per pupil expenditures for staff compensation and benefits, yet other suburban districts with lower per pupil costs far outpace them in overall student rankings."

"Successful student outcomes and high staff compensation levels, as measured by per pupil expenditures in this state, do not go hand in hand," Perry said. 

Perry said that taxpayers in several of the state's financially strapped communities, including West Warwick, Central Falls, and Woonsocket, "should be very concerned to see their communities with among the highest levels of per pupil costs while continuing to show a real struggle in student performance and rankings."

"Considering the state is mired in a very divisive debate right now about high school diploma requirements, it's timely to examine which communities are turning out successful students -- and how they got there," she said. 

To see the Top 20 highest school employee benefit budgets, see the slides, here. 

 

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