What Tucson-area School Districts, and BASIS, Spend on Administration

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Last week I wrote about a new report which concludes that charter schools spend far more on administration per student than school districts. According to the report, charters average $1,403 on administrative costs per student and school districts average $628. The higher costs at charters add up to $128 million a year.

To create the report, the authors went through the Annual Financial Reports submitted to the state by all charters and school districts. They put the data on administrative costs per student for all charters and districts into a long table (It begins on page 26 if you want to look at it). I went through the table to find how much each Tucson-area school district spends on administration per student. As I wrote above, the state average for districts is $628. Here's the local district breakdown, from low to high.
Sunnyside: $548
Amphitheater: $610
TUSD: $614
Vail: $666
Marana: $679
Flowing Wells: $684
Catalina Foothills: $807
Interestingly, TUSD, which is regularly accused of having a bloated administration, is the third lowest on the list, just below the state district average.

The report shows that many of the larger charter districts, which should benefit from economies of scale, actually have some of the highest administrative costs (Costs at some of the smaller charters are below the school districts' average cost). BASIS, for instance, spends an average of $2,275 per student on administration, more than 50 percent higher than the charter average. Here are the numbers for the Tucson-area BASIS schools, from low to high.
Oro Valley Primary: $1,952
Tucson North: $1,976
Tucson: $2,075
Oro Valley: $2,456
One final stat from the study: the amount spent on administration relative to classroom spending. School districts spend an average of 22 percent as much on administration as on the classroom. Charters spend 48 percent.

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