Three Maryland school systems among top five in per-pupil spending -- Gazette.Net


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Three school systems in Maryland were in the top five in per-pupil spending among the largest K-12 school systems in the U.S., according to 2010 census data released Thursday.

Of the 50 largest school systems in the U.S., Montgomery County Public Schools was second in per-pupil spending, only to the New York City School District. Montgomery spent $15,582 per student, while New York spent $19,597 per student.

Baltimore City Public Schools was third, spending on average $14,711 per student, and Prince George’s County Public Schools was fifth, at $14,019. Milwaukee Public Schools was fourth, at $14,038.

The average per-pupil spending nationally in 2010 was $10,615, according to the data.

Montgomery County students and parents get their money’s worth, Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr said Thursday.

“Our kids get a top quality education, and our taxpayers get a very good return on investment,” he said.

Joan Fidler, president of the Montgomery County Taxpayers League, said she questions the claim that student achievement would drop if the school system cut back spending by a small percentage, such as 5 percent.

Fidler said that Montgomery County Public Schools needs to re-examine the way it spends money. The school system devotes too much of its funding to adults — such as teacher and staff salaries and benefits — rather than to children, she said.

“A lot of [student success] comes from motivated students and parental involvement,” she said. “I think we discount that, especially in Montgomery County.”

Starr noted that the school system was honored for its spending efficiency when it won a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2010.

When comparing spending in school systems across the nation, it is important to remember that the cost of doing business is higher in the county and along the East Coast, Starr said.

All nine states in the Northeast ranked among the top 15 in per pupil spending in 2010.

Maryland ranked ninth nationally in 2010, with an average of $13,738 per student; the District of Columbia was first at $18,667, and Virginia ranked 25th at $10,597.

jbondeson@gazette.net