Charlottesville spends $16,200 per student

The per-pupil cost of education in the City of Charlottesville stood at $16,200 in 2009, or nearly double the typical cost of private school education, according to an op-ed column in the Sunday Progress, which notes that most citizens didn't realize the cost was this high.

36 comments

The Education my kids received at the City Schools was 2nd to none. CHS sends more kids to UVA than any other school and many of their graduates go on to do great things.

You can't compare public schools to private school with a cost per pupil ratio. How much would STAB cost if they had to admit every student that applies, provide busses, special ed, interpreters, meal subsidies, speech and hearing etc?

Old timer teacher START at $42k in Albemarle. That's before a great retirement and medical package. Teacher salaries are very competitive and it's wrong that people pretend otherwise. We pay well and should expect good teachers. I happy on both accounts

I know I got my moneys worth from good ol charlottesville high. I could have gotten even more value if I had actually applied myself. I was a lazy daydreamer.

Had aconversation with a Stab parent whose son is failing miserably(2nd grade & no read). They have to have him tutored yearround to keep from falling even further behind. If you have issues learning the normal way Stab, TCS, Tandem have nothing for you. Venable etc have a lot. They are required to by law.
On the other hand I sub in the city schools. As long as you are in higher level classes you are dealing with decent kids with some manners. After that you have to make it through some very disrespectful pieces O.S. 2 possible solutions: First enforce the no cell phone rule at CHS. They totally ignore it because the good kids(smart & driven) don't break the rule and the rest don't care. Secondly for the love of god bring back corporal punishment. Beat some respect into these B**tds. At the end of the day most private don't & won't deal with the 30%(I'm guessing) that should be sent a discipline/bootcamp school.

Scott, I find our comments on teachers to be downright repulsive. My mother was a teacher and she worked 80+ hour weeks when you consider the grading and planning that goes on at night. For this they start at 30k a year. Wow.

Find me a CEO who works 80 hours a week for 30k a year. There they are driving our industry into the ground and they make millions off of it.

teachers are the ones who do the teaching, and you get what you pay for. Chisel on teachers and eventually the good ones leave.

Sure, our school system could really use some cost cuts, but it isn't about teachers, it's about the parents who don't want to raise their kids, rich or poor.

Hey NGSOE...since when is <50K a competitive salary for a Master's degree educated person with 10 years experience in the job, in an expensive area like this?

Get real. Can you live on that? Of course. Do dynamic people who want something besides good karma get attracted by that? Nope. They quit teaching and go into data management, real estate, engineering, hospital administration or anything else that pays more.

And God bless those for whom the generative mission of teaching is important enough to forgo something more lucrative.

You think teachers are lazy? Are you kidding me? Some are, some are very hardworking.

Have you ever spent more than 30 minutes in a building where Federal employees work?

You will instantly become less hostile to the those who want smaller government.

The population of children and their socioeconomic level will directly impact the cost of public education in Charlottesville. The more affordable housing, the more children with needs, the higher the bill. Charlottesville has by far the highest % of children in this group in the area, and the elected leaders are adding more of this housing to the City.

I predict, that if this trend continues, and the housing needs of those requiring more social services is not dealt with as a regional issue, and the City continues to increase this population - we will see the cost per pupil continue to rise in the City. The students, that can afford to, will leave the system; as the services of the higher achieving students are cut, to keep up with the mandated dated costs of the disadvantaged.

Parents, not teachers, are the primary problem.

Some kids get rotten eggs for parents- should we abandon these kids ?

Here is the proof of starting salaries for those who might want to check it out:
http://www.albemarle.org/upload/images/forms_center/departments/human_re...

I do not want to hear any more moaning from the school board, teachers, or school administration - we seem to be paying more and more for a mediocre, at best, result. Is there absolutely no accountability in the system ? Does anyone really know what is in the budget and where it really goes ? - does anyone in the system really care, beyond protecting their turf ?

As a teacher in a public school, it is disheartening to read people ridiculing teachers as Scott did above. I work hard to make sure my students learn as much as possible during the school year. My contract hours are 8:30 to 4:10 and I get in at 7:30 stay until 4:30 and then spend HOURS at home, grading papers, planning lessons and making sure that I maintain the high standards I have set in my classroom. I work in the summer restructuring my curriculum, going to conferences and doing what is necessary to get ready for the next school year.

All this talk about how terrible teachers are just makes the good ones want to leave. Scott, there are poor performers in EVERY profession and lets not place all teachers at the level of the lowest common denominator. Be better than that please.

That bring said, IWTB hit the nail on the head. STAB would never have to pay for a para-educator for a severely special needs child. STAB doesn't need to provide all the social services for the students coming from underprivileged homes. STAB isn't required to adhere to the testing schedule set by the state that costs the school districts thousands of dollars. STAB accepts highly motivated you who have supportive parents and are prepared for education.

The public schools teach a large population of students that have no motivation, are not ready to learn and do not have supportive parents. The public schools are required by law to give everyone access to an appropriate education. Please do your research before making ignorant comments about how the school districts are wasting money. There is probably a little fat to cut, but not nearly as much as most people think.

nicknameoscar - A large amount of comparative test data is not available as private school students aren't required to take or pass the state standards of learning tests.

Well, I missed one of the main points in the column - public education costing twice as much per pupil as private education. So, I would like to see test data for public vs. private as well.

Can you imagine the costs in a state like Arizona, where ONE IN 5 STUDENTS are in this country ILLEGALLY and the citizens foot the bill each year crying out to the government for help and nothing is done to releive these costs, the billions in medical/hospital assistance paid, and other social services. Visit Arizona, don't boycott it due to ignorance on the issue at hand, it's all in the numbers as you can see.

I went to a local Charlottesville public school. The students had little respect for each other, themselves, or the teachers. And who's to blame? No one. That's the real world! Life isn't a TV sitcom!

IWTB, has identified why the cost is so high. Take one example; if a city student is sent to jail, the school system has to pay for tutoring, and if that student is sent to a residential treatment facility the cost can range from 70 - 80 thousand per year. You don't need many of those students to understand the high per pupil cost of a public city education. Add onto that all the other social needs the city is required to provide, through special services, and you have a whopping bill to pay. Private schools just turn these children away and have none of this cost to worry about.

The public school teachers who deal with these problems, on a daily basis, are heroes. They deserve our support and applause for the service they are performing for all of us. Our country will surely fail if we give up on public education

And we don't have a voucher system in VA....hmmm...

I'll take CHS over any private school in the area. More AP and honors choices, more foreign languages and by far more highly qualified teachers working at the highest levels.

I have to admit I kept saying Wow as I read the op-ed column but the one thing I would like to see that wasn't in that column is data on testing scores for children in Charlottesville compared to Albemarle, compared to the average for the state as a whole and compared to the average for other states with a similar population mix and economy. I am not smart enough to figure out what search terms to put in to get that data, maybe someone else can?

It would be more interesting to see how the test scores have improved (if they have) as the money going to education has increased.

I would tell you that private school testing is higher than public but that isn't about money spent. It's abut the fact that private schools can turn down students and public schools can't.

I cosign with OLD TIMER on everything. But we do not need to continue appeasing bad parenting either. Start pushing back on the parents somehow. I have lots of ideas on how this would work if we could get people past their own guilt and apathy.

This is a prevailing myth--that private schools spend more per student than public schools--not unlike the myth about how much the US government spends on foreign aid. Though much of the discussion above involves STAB as the model private school, it is not since it's tuition is on the very high end of local independents. Most independents are lower in tuition, in the 10 to 15 range, and the amount they spend on students is about 30% lower still since many parents do not pay full tuition. Thus, as the article notes from figures that are required by federal law, the average amount spent in a local private school is indeed about $7K. How can they do so? The fact, noted above in the comments, that they can be selective and do not have to provide certain services is partially true. But ultimately, the local public schools end up spending more in places that independents spend less. The two biggest budget items for schools are #1 salaries and #2 facilities. Starting salaries, usually without benefits, are much lower in the private schools which also cut costs as they do not have as many administrators. As for facilities, the independents are worse--witness many local privates that use old public school buildings that have been abandoned. Given the disadvantages in resources at the private schools, it is remarkable that they draw as many students as they do. The critical difference is that the teachers in the private schools tend to have more autonomy and are willing to work at a lower salary at a school of their choice. Their motivation exceeds that of the average public school teacher. If the public schools wanted to genuinely improve their performance, you might see them considering fundamental changes in their models, investigating the independents that are drawing students away, and encouraging competition from charters and within the system. When the best college sports teams want to get genuinely better, they play the best competition. But no one really believes the public schools want to get better. They think they're good enough and the only worry is about their funding.

It seems that most of the posters here believe what Adam Schaeffer has to say about public schools. But Schaeffer ââ?¬â?? who is at the conservative Cato Institute and who was previously at the conservative American Enterprise Institute ââ?¬â?? just regurgitates the same old conservative tripe about public schools. Schaeffer makes the claim, again and again, that "student achievement, which, all controlled studies show, is improved by school choice programs.

But that's not true.

As Linda Darling-Hammond points out, Great Society programs reduced child poverty, improved minority college attendance rates, and "cut the literacy achievement gap by nearly half..." But then came conservative presidents and policies and "a new theory of reform." This new theory included a heavy does of testing, merit pay for teachers, and vouchers and charter schools (and one of Schaeffer's favorites, tax credits).

But research on the conservative favorites doesn't hold up. For example, Darling-Hammond and former believer Diane Ravitch both dismiss conservative claims about charter schools. Darling-Hammond says that the "largest national study to date" on charter schools shows "that charter schools more frequently under-perform than outperform their [public] counterparts." Ravitch says the research on charters shows that "...83 percent were either no better, or they were worse" than other pubic schools. And she cites why charters are very different than regular public schools:
they select by lottery (not every student can go there), they tend to attract students who choose to go there (motivation), and they enroll smaller populations of students with disabilities and who have limited English proficiency.

Darling-Hammond, Ravitch and the American Educational Research Association agree with other scholars on the impact of the testing mania that pervades public schooling today (George Allen said as governor that the increased emphasis on SOLs and SOL testing would not cost local school districts any money....not so): it impairs education for insight and understanding and it narrows the teaching/learning process. In Ravitch's words, "The biggest victim of high-stakes testing is the quality of education."

According to the JLARC report on public schooling,Charlottesville City Schools and other more urban localities typically face a higher cost of social services (education, fire and rescue, welfare) than do less urban areas. Poverty, lack of adequate health care and poor nutrition all affect the cost of education, and usually, student performance.

@ oldtimer - OK, enough of this underpaid teacher stuff. The starting salary is similar to starting salaries for twenty- somethings in many industries, but the benefits are better. The avg general teacher pay in city schools is over $52,000. For special ed teachers it's $54,000. For vocational teachers it's $57,000. For technology teachers it's $50,000. Multiply each by 1.33 to see a 12 month equivalent. I'm not suggesting teachers are overpaid, but enough of this underpaid nonsense. My source for these inconvenient truths?

http://www.ccs.k12.va.us/departments/budget/documents/10-11-budget-final...

in reference to underpaid cops, firmen, and teachers in the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle:

The salary doesn't even include ALL the benefits. Health insurance, life insurance, sick leave, vacation time, retriement, etc... Combined with the increasing numbers of city and county employees issued take-home vehicles as the years go by. The savings in vehicle gas alone adds up to quite a bit each year. And their personal vehicle insurance goes down too because they can list their privately owned car as "pleasure use only" after getting a take-home car from the employer. I have had a take-home car from 1974 to present day, making my personal vehicle insurance rates much much lower.

One thing my former comrades could tell you is the fact I never whined about my salary and benefits when employed by the city for several decades. I felt more than fortunate.

Most parents do not have $16,000 just laying around, all this does is reinforce the self centered, "mine not yours" philosophy of our society.
The extra cost associated with being PARENTS for kids is a lot of this money. I would like to see school's push back. If your kid is not doing well, mis behaving then you both have to come in weekly and meet with a counselor. If it continues then YOU the parent will be ordered to pay the cost associated with extra security, counslors etc. Watch what happens when people are forced to parent. Unfortunatly the good parents that do their jobs have to pay for the bad.

Yet another disaster created by the massive Obama tax increases!

Teachers are the in the trenches - the first line of defense against ignorance and chaos. They are having a primary impact on the next generation - especially when parents are abdicating responsibility. Teachers are trying to instill character.

The next generation will be leading the world when we are old and dependent. Let's do our best by the students and the teachers. We're investing in our future too.

Comparing private to public isn't a fair and balanced comparison. Public schools must take every student whether that student has special needs, inadequate parenting or requires more supervision. STAB and Tandem and other private schools can select which students (and parents) to accept. If you don't abide by their rules and pay their tuition - you're out and another is in your place. The public schools have no such leverage. Public schools must take every child and try to do the best that they can by them. They need our support. A few whiny teachers and/or administrators do cause people to turn a deaf ear and blind eye - but CHS, AHS, WAHS and MHS all have fantastic teachers and administrators. I know. Yes, they do have mediocre administrators and teachers too - but doesn't every profession? There are some GEMS at our schools - I know best about CHS and MHS as my daughter went to both - and she had some fantastic teachers along the way. Sparking her interests, challenging her mind and supporting her.

Wow. That is about what STAB costs.

Grade One - Four $16,475
Grade Five - Eight $18,075
Grade Nine -Twelve $20,075

Given a choice, most parents would choose STAB over the city schools.

The teachers basically work for summers off. They barely teach our children anything that will help them in the real world. They could care less if a child is failing, they just move on to the next one. In my day teachers called parents in for conferences in situations like that. In my opinion they are just big kids with a college degree that get paid to let kids act the way they do in school. There are VERY few teachers that are actually teachers in today's school system.

School vouchers, the parents would be getting 16 grand towards their students education and could receive a better product

I still feel that public education is one, if not the most important corner stone of our democracy. That said, as the entire economy changes, so too must our public schools. There simply is not enough money available to continue this level of funding, given all the failing infrastructure needs in the City, and the loss of appetite for increased taxes. Clearly, there are too many school buildings for the size of the population they are serving.

@Scott: If you can provide one SHRED of evidence for your claims, then do. How do you "know" these things? Have you been channeling "Sean"????

Folks the city schools have to deal with whoever walks in the door. They don't get to exclude kids that have problem behavior, nor the undernourished, unintelligent, or learning disabled kids and they don't get to refuse admission to those with difficult physical issues.

Of course it takes money to do all this. I think we've ruled out eugenics and work camps. So you have to educate all of the kids in our community, and it's never cheap whether they're bound for MIT or VDOT.

Lawrence Mishel and Richard Rothstein wrote this several years ago:

"In a paper recently posted on the National Bureau of Economic Research's Web site, Massachusetts Institute of Technology economists Frank Levy and Peter Temin wrote, "The current trend toward greater inequality in America is primarily the result of a change in economic policy that took place in the late 1970s and early 1980s." They went on to say that "the recent impacts of technology and trade have been amplified by the collapse of these institutions," by which they mean the suppression of unions and the abandonment of the norm of equality.

These are not problems that can be solved by charter schools, teacher accountability, or any other school intervention."

See: http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=schools_as_scapegoats

But the conservative answer to anything that involves education is to let "free markets" work it out. More tax credits, vouchers, merit pay, testing, etc. Just like their ideas and policies (supply-side economics, for example) seriously harmed the national economy, so too have their pedagogical ideas impaired public schooling.

As to teacher pay, virtually every reputable study or comparison shows teaches receiving significantly less pay than others with comparable levels of education. In 2006, for example teachers with bachelor's and master's degrees in Virginia made 67% of what others with comparable educations received. And, teacher salaries in Virginia have fallen significantly behind the national average. (Interestingly, any good teacher works as many hours in 10 months as others workers do in a year).

People like Adam Schaeffer use data to confuse and distort truth. for example, Schaeffer claims that Oklahoma's universal pre-K education system ââ?¬â?? a national model ââ?¬â?? is responsible for two-three-four point declines in NAEP scores during the 1990s even though universal pre-k did not kick in until 1998. And, the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) puts the average tuition cost for all private schools in 2007-08 at $10,045. If religious schools are factored out, then the private school average is $16,247 (Google CAPE: Private School Facts).

And here's Forbes magazine about four years ago on the most costly private schools:

"As many public schools across the country struggle for resources, the top private institutions want for nothing. Waiting lists are long at top prep schools despite a median national tuition cost of $16,970 a year, according to the National Association of Independent Schools. That's 79% higher than the median cost 20 years ago, even taking inflation into account."

Note two things here: (1) even with costs escalating, there are waiting lists....apparently there are those who believe that money does buy more and better education (or perhaps it's the elitist, snobby thing), and (2) the statistic used here is the median, meaning that half of the schools in the referenced population were above $16,970 and half fell below.

Compare these data with what Schaeffer presents.