A report to the Evanston School District 65 School Board shows a $42,000 range in per pupil spending from school to school across the district, with the highest at Rice and the lowest at Lincolnwood and a $5,000 difference across the K-8 schools.

Development of a school site-based expenditure report was mandated by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act signed by President Obama in 2015. A summary of the first such report, created for the last school year in conjunction with the Illinois State Board of Education and Afton Partners, was reviewed by the board’s finance committee Monday night. 

“The main premise of ESSA is equity and a belief that the students with the greatest needs deserve the greatest share of our public education resources,” said Kathy Zalewski, business manager, in a staff memo.

“As a result, financial resources are distributed equitably, but not equally.” she said. “Students and schools with greater needs are receiving a bigger share of public funding.”

Some expenses, such as debt, capital and community services, are excluded from the calculation, Zalewski said. 

Per student spending varies because schools have different populations of students with special needs, English learners or low income students. School size is also a factor, since lower enrollment leads to a higher per pupil cost for fixed positions like principal or assistant principal. 

Teacher salaries also vary, since the same position costs more or less based on experience. State and federal requirements may dictate a specific student/teacher ratio, such as for pre-K.

Per student spending at Rice Education Center, a therapeutic day school, is $64,056 and spending for outplaced special education students is $58,452. Expenses for pre-K students at the Early Childhood Center is $22,693. Park School was excluded from the report, but would be similar to Rice at $66,183.

Average per student spending across the district is $15,401, with $14,462 per student at K-8 schools only. Oakton had the highest spending rate among the K-8 schools at $17,985 and Lincolnwood the lowest at $12,509. 

Larger schools, such as Haven and Nichols, tend to have lower per student spending because building costs are spread across more students. Smaller schools, or those with special programs such as Oakton or Bessie Rhodes, have smaller class sizes and higher per student spending. 

The total spent at each school ranges from $11.2 million at Haven to $2.1 million at Rice.

Sunith Kartha, board president, asked if data about racial demographics could be added to the report to help the board assess progress toward equity issues.

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  1. D65 spending – it’s not just $$$

    Does anyone have any idea why Oakton students continue to underperform on average academically when so much more money is being spent per pupil on Oakton students?

    This article shows that per pupil spending is 40% higher at Oakton than the average of the 3 lowest schools; Kingsley, Lincolnwood, and Willard. I’m glad to know that more money is being spent at Oakton per pupil, but I’m disappointed in the academic outcomes.

    Why is this the case? 

    Does anyone have any insights to share?

    Or is the answer, “we need more money”

    It doesn’t seem like $$$ is the answer.

    1. I’m guessing it is parent
      I’m guessing it is parent/community involvement. It’s the kneejerk and simplest answer.

      Poorer families can’t spend more time with children due to outside factors, but also if there have been generational issues with parenting role models it still cannot be solved by just the school.

    2. Disparity is a complex,

      Disparity is a complex, nationwide issue without a silver bullet.  That said, a chart in “Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares” (April 29, 2016) in the New York Times shows that while the disparity in Evanston is very high, the performance of its black and hispanic students is relatively high when compared nationwide.  See the second chart at the link below and click on the very highest pink dot.  While white students in D65 are among the richest in the country and overperform every other district in the country, and its disparity between white and black/hispanic kids is among the largest nationwide, its black and hispanic childrem outperform black and hispanic kids in most all other U.S. districts so the District is doing something right for black and hispanic children (which also looks to be having as much or more positive impact on white kids, too).  That result is both impressive and disheartening, but it likely points to systemic factors far outside of the control of a local elementary and middle school district, even one as committed to racial equity as Evanston (and you have to know Evanston is more committed than most districts in the U.S.)

      1. The achievement gap

        Hi Chris – The article you refer to is based on a report by socioligist Dr. Sean Reardon.  I saw him give a talk a ETHS several years ago.  He presented data on the reading scores that are given to grade school kids from 3rd to 8th grade.  According to his talk there is a 3-4 year gap in reading scores between the white and black students in Evanston schools which starts in 3rd grade and persists virtually unchanged to 8th grade.  That is, in 3rd grade black students might be reading at between the 2nd and 3rd grade level and white students are reading at the 6th grade level.  

        So first off what can be done about this.  I have looked at the school reports that D65 and D202 release every year and these include tests and various metrics that measure the performance of white and black students and I am pretty sure that the gap has not changed in the last 20 years.  It would be worthwhile to have an expert check this but I will think you will find that the gap we have today is the same gap we had 20 years ago.  This, of course, is distressing since great effort has been put into closing the gap by the school system but, in my opinion, minimal (or no) progress has been made.

        So what is the cause?  I suspect it has to do with the interaction between the children and parents in the family.  In my opinion this should be looked into by experts.  It may be that in the families with high achieving students parents read to their kids on a regular basis and/or are more restrictive in limiting “screen” time or other factors.  If these are determined to the the case then these parenting techniques could be easily adopted by the families of lower achieving kids.

        Like I stated above this should be looked into by experts.  Maybe some professor of sociology from Northwestern would be interested?

  2. Meanwhile 3 of the 7 ETHS

    Meanwhile 3 of the 7 ETHS National Merit Scholar semi finalists were graduates of St Athanasius School–8th grade graduating class 30 students with a tuition that is a fraction of the per pupil D65 expenditure.  Good for you St Athanasius in helping ETHS maintain its national reputation!

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