The 2016 RPS Budget is up. It’s time to start trying to understand where our money is going.
For a first effort, let’s look at the budget by school compared to the September, 2015 enrollment, or “membership” as they call it.
Here is the budgeted expense per student for the Richmond elementary schools.
The data come remarkably close to fitting a straight line (R2 = 66%), which suggests that there are important economies of scale. Said otherwise, our little schools are more expensive per student than the larger ones.
All of the three smallest schools (from the left, Swansboro, Cary, and Bellevue) look to be anomalously pricey. The slope of –$6.36 per student further tells us that if those three schools were combined, it would save about $3.6 million per year.
Here are the data:
We can examine the academic benefit of the smaller schools by looking at the 2015 SOL pass rates.
And plotting the pass rates vs. the budgeted expenditures per student tells us about the educational return on the money.
That’s clear enough: Neither smaller schools nor more money per student correlates significantly with better performance in the Richmond elementary schools. Looks to me like any new schools should be quite large.
Turning to the middle schools, Binford is anomalously pricey.
As to the pass rates, there’s one wrinkle: The 2015 SOL data predate the Elkhardt/Thompson merger. Rather than fiddle with the data (e.g., use the 2015 enrollments) I’ve left Elkhardt/Thompson off the following graphs.
Here, it looks like the smaller schools have some advantage, but a 9% correlation on the reading tests is nothing to bet money on and, as to math, 4% is even less so.
And, as to budget, we’re spending lots of money per student at little Binford, with precious little return.
Finally, the high schools.
Those expensive, little schools are doing very well.
But if we take selective Open and Community out of the mix, we see that decreasing size doesn’t improve the pass rate in our mainstream high schools.
As to cost, the expensive, selective, little schools do better as to reading, but not so much as to math.
If we again take Community and Open out of the mix, we (yet again) see that more money per student is not buying better performance.
Indeed, to a 20% correlation, more money is buying less math performance. That’s driven by the large, inexpensive high school, Huguenot.
What we are getting for those small schools is high costs but no better teaching.
As the estimable Carol Wolf keeps pointing out, we have too many old, decrepit, little schools. When we replace them, it would be a mistake to build new, shiny, little schools.