Florida recently released its school by school report cards, as required by federal law, and this year the documents included a new detail.
Instead of showing per-student funding by district, it dips deeper to show the amount for each school. The numbers can differ for a variety of reasons, ranging from the number of grants they receive and the type of services they provide to the salary levels of their teachers.
It’s similar information to the Return on Investment report the state stopped issuing a few years ago, but with a slightly different approach.
A quick look reveals some wide discrepancies.
In Pinellas County, for instance, Gibbs High School is listed as spending $10,225 per student. Boca Ciega High School, just three miles away, is listed at $7,781 per student.
Does it mean there are inequities in programs and other offerings? That would require a closer look.
But as experts told Florida Phoenix, the data offer a starting point for a conversation about how money is distributed among schools.
Because, as Chalkbeat reports, money matters when it comes to education. Four recent studies showed that increased funds going to schools serving low-income students tend to boost outcomes.
So what’s the range in the Tampa Bay area?
At the top end are schools that serve students with disabilities and special needs.
Hillsborough County’s hospital-homebound programs, for instance, came in at $70,405 per student. Pinellas County’s Sanders School, whose population is students with “exceptionalities,” logged in at $54,770 per student.
At the other end were a mix of charter schools and traditional district schools. The lowest three were Hernando eSchool at $4,128, Hillsborough Winthrop Charter at $5,329 and Pasco’s Cypress Creek Middle-High at $5,459.
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