The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 3, 2002


How do our per-pupil costs compare?

Recently Boston Magazine, letters to the editor of the Mosquito, political campaign flyers, school committee members and many concerned citizens have all tried to compare the cost per K-8 student in the Carlisle Public Schools with that in comparable towns. Most of these comparisons are incorrect as there is no standard method for calculating total costs. In some towns certain school costs are included in the town budget.

In Carlisle's FY03 balanced budget, for example, $221,458 in net school debt costs, $22,510 for capital equipment, and a percentage of approximately $900,000 in retirement and insurance costs are outside the CPS budget. In regional school districts and in some towns ,some or all of these costs are included in the school budget. Consequently, most available per-pupil costs quoted in the press and on government websites compare apples to oranges.

Recognizing these possible distortions, Carlisle School Committee member David Dockterman has researched and assembled his "best guess" of K-8 per-pupil costs in a number of small towns in the commonwealth. The following are the actual total expenditures for the 2000-2001 school year (FY01), divided by the number of students:

Carlisle $8450 Concord $8493

Lincoln $9113 Sudbury $6532

Edgartown $8680 Upsland $10,000

Dockterman admits that even these numbers may be flawed. There simply is no reliable source of comparable data.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito