Philadelphia School spending per student is well above the state’s median average spending per student and it’s raising questions.
The question on the minds of parents in the Philadelphia School District is simple – where is all the money going? In what amounts to a shocking figure, Philadelphia School spending per student is well above the state’s median average spending per student and it’s raising questions. It’s most definitely a head-scratcher.
The numbers come from Public School Review; a website that provides detailed profiles of public schools located across the country. The site breaks down each school and compares them with the state average. Not only do they look at key criteria such a teacher to student ratios, but they also look at individual schools’ finances.
According to the site, Philadelphia School spending per student reached $26,089. By comparison, the state’s median spending per student sits at $15,665. It’s a discrepancy that has many confused.
The confusion amongst those families within the school district was ramped up recently when the Philadelphia school board approved the outlines of a $3.9 billion spending plan. Not only were families in an uproar, but so were educators within the district. While it appears the Philadelphia School spending per student may not rise, one thing for certain that won’t rise is the number of educators or other staff support within the district. So, again, where’s the money going?
Per the new spending plan, the Philadelphia School District will spend more than it did last year. In fact, they will be spending $170 million more, and although there will be new investments with this spending, schools within the district will be seeing significant cuts to their staff when the 2022-23 school year begins. So, if the district will be getting a bump of $170 million for the next school year, then why will some schools lose staff? Well, according to the district’s chief financial officer, Uri Monson, it is because of a change to how the school resources will be allocated. On the bright side, says Monson, the district projects that they will have the best staff-to-student ratio numbers seen in a decade. Per his calculations, there will be one teacher for every 12.3 students, which is better than the 1 to 13.3 the district saw ten years back.
While Monson didn’t touch on the Philadelphia School spending per student numbers, he did talk about why some schools will be losing teachers, administrators, and other school staff. He said first, it was the reallocation of financial resources. Secondly, he explained, it was the fact that a number of schools are seeing an enormous drop in enrollment. He said the Philadelphia school system is losing around 4,000 students per year. He also explained that the 2022-23 numbers may even be worse because of what he calls “leveling.” This practice is where the school district moves teachers to schools based on their actual enrollment numbers. The practice was not seen for the 2021-22 school year.
There is also another major reason for the Philadelphia School spending per student cost – results, or lack thereof. According to Public School Review, math and reading proficiency within the school district is less than appealing. The public schools in the Philadelphia School District are looking at an average math proficiency score of 23%. This is compared to the state’s public school average of 45%.
When it comes to reading proficiency, the numbers are just as telling. Inside the Philadelphia School District, the reading proficiency score is at 37%. The statewide average is a robust 62%.
What is happening in the Philadelphia School District? Their schools are falling apart, they are losing staff left and right and enrollment continues to drop. Somehow, though, the Philadelphia School spending per student remains high. Just where is that money going?