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More students? More spending. Fewer students? Also more spending.

More students? More spending. Fewer students? Also more spending.

Mitch Coffman
May 13, 2011

This table compares the expenditures of eleven Idaho school districts in 1999 and 2008 and shows spending per student increased between ten and 122 percentage points regardless of whether the districts lost or gained students. All numbers are from the Idaho State Department of Education website.

TheTwin Falls School District came in first, as it were, with an increase in student population of 433 students between 1999 and 2008 and increased spending of nearly $49 million. Boise’s per-student spending went up by 58% after losing nearly 2000 students. The Bonneville School District in Idaho Falls spent 45% more per student in 2008 than it did in 1999 while the Idaho Falls School District, in the same city, raised spending by 22%. It’s almost a relief to see Pocatello’s increase in per-student spending was a mere ten percent; after losing 589 students, spending went up only four million dollars.

As voters go to the polls to decide the fate of school district levy elections, they should ask themselves what districts have been doing with the money they’ve already received. Per student spending in Meridian went up by 32% over the first decade of the new millennium. Did patrons also receive a 32% increase in per student learning? If not, then should patrons pay more?

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