Feeding and Failing the Kids

The VDOE data show each school division’s spending for the day school operation (administration, instruction, attendance & health, pupil transportation, and O&M) and then for food services, summer school, adult education, pre-kindergarten, and “other” educational programs (“enterprise operations, community service programs, and other non-[division] programs”).  The previous post discussed the very large expenditures beyond day school for Richmond and some other divisions; that spending correlated fairly well with the division percentage of economically disadvantaged (“ED”) students.

An astute reader asked whether the spending for food services showed a correlation, particularly in the light of the federal support from the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program for ED students. 

Indeed, there is a decent correlation.

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Richmond is the gold square.  The red diamonds are the peer cities, from the left Hampton, Newport News, and Norfolk.  Lynchburg is purple; Charles City, green.  Richmond is $108 (18%) above the fitted line.

To look at those figures in context, here they are again (green this time), along with the total spending per student beyond the day school operation (“Excess”) and that total minus the food expenditure.

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The excess shows a modest correlation while excess minus food shows very little; that correlation in the excess clearly comes from the food expenditure.

As with the overall Excess spending, the SOL pass rates show a modest negative correlation with the food service expenditure.

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Again, as with the overall Excess spending, most of that negative correlation is driven by decreases in pass rates of the students who are not economically disadvantaged.

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These data sing the same song: This extra spending is not associated with more learning.  We can wonder why it’s in the education budget.

We earlier saw that increasing a division’s percentage of ED students is associated with a decrease in the pass rates of the Not ED students more than the ED; these data are consistent with that (but do not proffer an explanation).

Finally, we have the SOL performance vs. the Excess spending other than for food services:

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There is a bit of a correlation here, but in the wrong direction. 

Closer to home, the Richmond spending remains a substantial outlier.  RPS is spending $856 per student more in non-food Excess than the average division; that $19.7 million is buying the Reading and math deficits you see in these graphs. 

RPS keeps demonstrating that it does not know how to competently run its day school operation.  While they are thus failing to educate Richmond’s schoolchildren, they are spending a lot of money on things other than the day school operation. 

If money were as important to performance as they say it is (albeit money in fact is irrelevant to performance), you’d think they would redirect some of those dollars.  Go figure.