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Arlington School Spending 89% Above U.S. Average

Today’s Arlington Sun Gazette reports on new data from the Census Bureau showing “Arlington Per-Student Spending 89% Higher Than U.S. Average.” The Sun Gazette’s Scott McCaffrey explains:

“Across the nation, public school systems spent an average of $10,499 per pupil that year, the most recent available, according to new figures. For the same year, Arlington spent $19,538, according to figures from the Washington Area Boards of Education (WABE) survey, released in December 2008.

“Arlington had the highest per-student spending of any jurisdiction in the D.C. suburbs that year, according to the WABE survey. Among neighboring systems, the city of Alexandria spent $19,078 per student, while Falls Church spent $18,311 and Fairfax County spent $13,340.

“Arlington school officials have long defended high per-student costs as the price that must be paid to provide an expansive menu of student services. Critics have suggested that county taxpayers could save more than $100 million a year by reducing per-student costs to Fairfax County’s levels.”

Re: Arlington school officials’ defense of the dent that high cost-per-student makes in taxpayers wallets. We growled about this on December 10, 2010 when we compared SAT scores to the number of teachers per 1,000 students in the Arlington Public Schools. We’ll repeat the comparison from that post, but note especially the numbers for APS and the Fairfax County Public Schools:

  • Arlington Public Schools -- 102.91 teachers/1,000 students. Total SAT = 1,610.
  • Fairfax County Public Schools -- 75.91 teachers/1,000 students. Total SAT = 1,664.
  • Loudoun County Public Schools -- 81.92 teachers/1,000 students. Total SAT = 1,593.
  • Prince William County Public Schools -- 60.61 teachers/1,000 students. Total SAT = 1,499.
  • Alexandria City Public Schools -- 101.26 teachers/1,000 students. Total SAT = 1,441.
  • Falls Church City Public Schools -- 96.26 teachers/1,000 students. Total SAT = 1,712.

Sounds like Arlington taxpayers need to begin questioning that “expansive menu of student services” and just which ones are effective in raising student achievement and which can be eliminated.


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