Monday, November 04, 2002
OPS IS, TOO, A BIG SPENDER COMPARED TO OTHER DISTRICTS NATIONWIDE
Last-minute campaigning on behalf of the Omaha Public Schools, which is seeking a tax increase on Tuesday's ballot, claims that OPS spending patterns should be compared to districts closer to its size.
With more than 45,000 pupils, OPS is by far the largest school district in Nebraska. Though that should afford it tremendous economies of scale in purchasing and so forth, compared to smaller local districts, its sheer size does make its fiscal patterns different from others.
So let's see how it stacks up nationwide.
Guess what? OPS is a big spender compared to other large districts around the country.
It ranked 50th in spending per pupil in a ranking of the nation's largest 100 school districts, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data, "National Public Education Financial Survey," 1998-99.
That year, OPS reported 45,118 students and spending per pupil of $5,741. A similarly-sized district, Alpine School District in Utah, had 90 more students and spent $3,806 apiece . . . exactly one-third LESS than OPS.
True, the next district, St. Paul, Minn., spent a great deal more than OPS, $8,119 per pupil, but as you go down the list of the nation's top 100 largest districts, you'll find exactly half that spend less than OPS . . . and many of them have more poverty and more non-English speaking students than OPS has.
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