During bad times the budget discussions go like this: The Math Supervisor adamantly defends the Math
Coaches and the Director of Professional Development would be appalled if you cut any professional
development. The AROI discussion will center on whether the Directors/Supervisors can “prove” A
school district can benefit by researching per unit costs. Per unit costs is a relatively new concept and
now that we understand the basic elements of the school budget, what does it tell us? A common
statistic widely quoted is how much we spend per student. For example, in XYZ school district we spend
$12,000 per student. How does this help a parent whose child can’t read at his or her grade level? I
believe it would be better to know how much a district spends per student on their reading programs.
The process can work like this: The Middle School Math Program in XYZ School District costs $325 per
student. Middle School Electives like Wood shop and Art, for example, costs $650 per student. Now we
can begin to have a meaningful discussion with staff, parents and the community.
A recent study done by the Center on Reinventing Public Education revealed that Middle School Math
cost one district $328 per student and Middle School Electives cost $512 per student. Advanced
Placement courses cost $1,666 per pupil versus $739 for regular core courses. A West Coast district
revealed they spend $1,300 per student on cheer leading and $215 per student on golf. This does not
mean that we eliminate cheer leading, but maybe it can be restructured. These statistics are extremely
helpful during a budget crisis.
Let’s look at this further. One can assume that students who take AP courses are older, very smart, and
technologically savvy. Could a district effectively teach these students independently through online
instruction? I think that is a fair discussion.
This is a very general discussion on a new way to communicate during the budget process to staff,
parents and the community. It is worth further exploration.whether their “programs” are drivingstudent success.