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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Take a deep breath: NYC schools will spend $31,434 per student

New York City schools are spending more while enrolling fewer students, reports Kristina Watrobski for Crisis in the Classroom. Since 2019-20, the budget has increased by $4 billion, about 12 percent, while the district has lost nearly 100,000 students, close to a 10 percent decline.

"Per-student spending is expected to reach $31,434 this fiscal year, more than double the national average," writes Watrobski.

Photo: Mary Taylor/Pexels

"I don't think you can spend any more money per student and get these kinds of terrible results," said Maud Maron, co-president of Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education NYC (PLACE NYC). Less than half of the city's public school students were considered proficient in both math and reading in September. Maron blames a shift in focus towards "non-academic things."

Despite falling enrollment, the city will have to hire thousands of teachers and spend an estimated $1.9 billion to reduce class sizes to comply with a state law backed by teachers' unions.

In July, Mayor Eric Adams announced a "mindful breathing" program to improve mental and physical health, and enhance social-emotional learning.

I remember my first-grade teacher telling us to take a few deep breaths when we were upset back in the Neolithic Era. It doesn't cost anything to breathe.

Cities are losing children, writes Steven Malanga on City Journal. Families with preschoolers are leaving big cities for the suburbs or "exurbs," while other young couples aren't have kids at all.

"Struggling school districts from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles have seen 'massive' hemorrhaging of students," as New York City Mayor Adams puts it.

The under-five population has shrunk by 6.1 percent in large cities, according to a new study, he writes.

Declines are even larger in mid-Atlantic and West Coast cities.

Housing prices have leveled off or even fallen, Malanga writes, but "rising urban disorder, growing homelessness, and extended school closures sent families fleeing from cities."

Urban districts have been losing enrollment long before the pandemic, he notes.

Los Angeles’s district reached its enrollment peak more than 20 years ago, at 737,000 students, and has been on a steady downturn since then. It lost 57,000 students during Covid, and total enrollment is now down 58 percent since the peak. A recent study estimated that the district could lose another 125,000 students by 2030.

In New York City, 57,000 students who'd attended public schools switched to schools outside of the city.


Aug 01, 2023

That's $628,680 for every classroom of 20 kids. If you hire two $100k teachers and two $75k aids + %50 in benefits for all four, you still have over $100k for everything else.

Ann in L.A.

Aug 02, 2023
Replying to

That classroom will have a child on an individual bus route....that is $100k alone. There will be several students in the cohort bussed out of district as well as those in a residential setting, with cash going from the sending district to the receiving district or private. This will be age 3 to 21.

Then add in therapists and support staff seen during the school day and the share of the rest of the staff and teachers.

In my part of NY, per pupil is about $10k for nonspecial needs. That covers only required classes, ENL, alternative school, and vo-tech.

Then consider the pension funds...district must send cash back to Albany if pension funds do not meet targeted returns.


Aug 01, 2023

Over $30K per year per kid? Just HIRE the dang kid for some sort of scut task. Then start up "on-the-job" training. Pick up the litter, scoop up the dog poop, push a broom, scrub the graffiti, -- if you can copy the letters on a license plate to the form for parking ticket -- and maybe prove you can tell time -- you get a promotion! (Perhaps, then, the entry-level scut task assigned kindergarten-level employees ought to earn less than the tasks assigned the literate -- on $30K on AVERAGE. (( Assign a 7th-grade level scut-worker to keep track of payroll and ensure the average is below budget...))

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