AVERAGES ARE FUNNY THINGS

( – promoted by Sue Prent)

Conventional wisdom tends to believe that if the high spending small school districts are somehow controlled, the per pupil expenditure decreased, the average for all school districts will go down.   Well, the total group average will decrease, but….

Let’s look at an example:

Assume a state with 80,000 students and an average per pupil cost of $10,000 for a total cost of $800,000,000.  

One small district in this fictitious state spends $20,000 for each of its 80 students.  If only we could dramatically reduce that cost!

Another district has 4000 students and spends $12,000 per student.  Gosh, they’re only 20% above the state average compared to the school above which is twice the state average.

Which district has the greatest impact on the average per pupil cost for the state?  To find out let’s demand that each district reduce its spending to the state average, $10,000 per student.

In the case of the 80 student district, there would be a savings of $800,000, thus the new state average would be $9,990.  The state average goes down $10!

In the case of the 4000 pupil district, there would be a savings of $8,000,000, thus the new state average would be $9,900.  The state average goes down $100!

So, if you want to reduce education spending in this fictitious state, the first place to look is at those larger school districts that spend above the state average.  Small districts give you small savings.  Large districts give you large savings.  

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