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In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Paul Peterson wrote a piece entitled “Do We Really Need to Spend More on Schools?”

In it, he shows that nationwide, we spend an average of $12,922 per student each year in our public schools.  It got me to thinking.

$13,000/year times 20 students per classroom (low by national standards) = $260,000

Let’s make a bunch of assumptions about the costs to operate that classroom (I’m pulling most of these numbers out of the air):

- a teacher costs $90,000 including all wages and benefits and payroll taxes, etc.;

-  an adequate classroom is 30 feet x 50 feet or 1,500 square feet – let’s be generous and use 2,000 square feet and say we could rent it at $2.00 per foot per month.  That would cost (2000 x $2 x 12 =) $48,000 per year;

- let’s use $500 per month for utilities = $6,000 per year;

- if we lease the classroom from a private individual he or she will want a net lease so we have to pay the taxes and insurance – use $5,000 for taxes and $2,000 for insurance and it adds $7,000 to our annual cost;

- Let’s also rent the furniture and equipment for $1,000 per student per year or $20,000 more;

- and let’s add $500 per student for books and supplies or another $10,000.

Did I forget anything?

So if we add it up, that is $90,000 + $48,000 + $6,000 + $7,000 + $20,000 + $10,000 = $181,000 per year.

So what makes up the $79,000 left over?  My guess is that it is Administrative overhead and the cost of complying with all the federal and state mandates like “No Child Left Behind”, etc.  If administration is $300,000 per year for a school with 12 classrooms that adds $25,000 per classroom to the mix but it still leaves $54,000.  In a business, if that $54,000 was the profit on a revenue stream of $260,000, it would represent over a 20% profit margin.  Nicw work if you can get it.

It seems to me that there is a business plan for a private school lurking in these figures.  It also tells me that there is a disconnect between the constant pleas from the NEA and AFT unions asking for more money for our schools and the real needs to run our schools well.

What do you think?

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