Bill Steigerwald has a great editorial in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review dissecting per-pupil public school spending in Pittsburgh. Generally, when I quote media articles about school spending, I have to do what should be the obvious analyses myself (as with this pathetic Washington Post piece on school spending). However, this would be totally redundant for Steigerwald's column. I encourage you to read it all, but here are some highlights for Pittsburgh schools:
- Per pupil spending in the public schools is $18,719
- Quality private schools in Pittsburgh charge from $7,000 to an elite level at $19,500. Humorously, just over $12,000 will get you a year at the University of Pittsburgh
- Barely half of this spending goes towards the classroom. The rest, presumably, goes to funding a probably enormous corps of vice-principals. (If you ever are at a school board meeting that allows public comment or Q&A, ask how many vice-principals they have in their system). In Pittsburgh, administrative costs are 72.5% of teacher salary costs, meaning there are likely about 3 administrators for every 4 teachers. Ugh.
- Teachers make $86,000 in salary and benefits, or $114,667 if you adjust for the fact they only work 9 months of the year. Kind of obviates the "teachers are underpaid" myth.
The only other thing I would have called the schools out on is their defense that they have to pay transportation, administration, and debt service out of these costs, as if somehow this made their numbers non-comparable to private benchmarks. So what? Do you think my kid's private school evades these costs somehow? Their school charges about $6,500 for middle school, and they make a profit on this (and do not get any donations). I am pretty sure they also have to pay for administration of multiple schools (they have a network of 5 schools) and for debt service on the capital costs to build the schools in the first place. Our schools don't have transportation, but many other private schools do.