Today the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on an analysis of school spending. According to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau called Public Education Finances: 2010, Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) had 82,096 students in 2009-2010, revenue of $1.27 billion (p. 75), and expenditures of $1.26 billion (p. 77). It also reported “current spending” of $14, 019 per student in MPS.
Except there are a couple of problems with this $14,019 figure, mainly that it does not reflect all of MPS’s spending.
If you do the math and divide the total revenue above by the number of students, you get revenue of $15,356 per student in MPS.
If you divide the total expenditures of MPS by the number of students, you get expenditures of $15,456 per student.
These figures only tell part of the story, however.
If you go to the annual report for MPS for the 2009-2010 school year, you see that actual expenditures were $1.4 billion. This calculates to actual spending of $17,132 per child in MPS for 2009-2010.
Don’t let the article or the Census Bureau report fool you. MPS did NOT spend $14,019 per child. The district actually spent $17,132 of taxpayer money per student, or 22% more than is being reported. And what do we get for this? Students who cannot read or do math.
Why is there a difference? The Census Bureau only includes certain items in its figure for “current spending” in its report. I’m not sure why they prepare the report this way, but it obviously significantly understates the amount Milwaukee Public Schools spends per student.
And if you’ve bought the lie that MPS is failing because it’s an “urban school,” read this article about how well other urban school districts are doing.