In 2009-10, Washington D.C. public schools spent $29,409 per student, according to the Census Bureau, points out Andrew Coulson at Cato @ Liberty. “This spending figure is about triple what the DC voucher program spends per pupil — and the voucher students have a much higher graduation rate and perform as well or better academically,” he writes.
D.C. spends much more per student than Cleveland and Atlanta, which enroll demographically similar students and earn similar NAEP scores, notes Michael McShane of AEI. (He divides revenues by students for an average of $27,263 per student in D.C. In a comment, Coulson says D.C. spent more than its revenues, so his figure is correct.)
Per student, DC has the most teachers, the most instructional aides, the most instructional coordinators, the second most administrators, and the second most administrative support staff.
DC also pays their teachers more, with a starting salary for a first year teacher with a bachelor’s degree set at $51,539 a year and a teacher with a Master’s degree and 21 years of experience earning $100,839 per year. In Atlanta (according to the district’s website), it’s $44,312 and $69,856; in Cleveland (according to its union contract) it’s $36,322 and $70,916. Note: all of these figures are simply salary, these do not include benefits.
. . . Atlanta gets slightly better test scores with slightly poorer students at 60% of the cost of DCPS and Cleveland does about the same with slightly less poor students at 68% of the cost.
Despite DCPS’ reputation for bureaucratic bloat, Atlanta has many more administrators. Cleveland has relatively few.