Got this comment on CSDWeAllWin’s Facebook page today.
Today I had a friend say all the programs and cuts Christina school district was making is nuts. All because people wont sign a referendum. My answer was Christina School district asked for almost 100% raise in funding on their first attempt. This was highway robbery. They then asked for I believe a 15% increase and it was shot down… You know why??? Everyone I talked to who googled the referendum, saw the previous request. They thought their taxes were doubling. The district did this to its self… So lets do a little math and see if the money is spent correctly. 2014 budget 228 million dollars. 16255 students. That is $14,026.45 / student. I googled the “average private school tuition 19711″… the answer was $11970.00. If it can be funded privately for 2000 less per student and provide a better education… Something isn’t adding up. We cant continue to throw money at a mismanaged program. I really don’t want to hear go to a budget meeting. I want to hear my math is either incorrect or why we should pay $2000.00 more per student for your education. What is better? I’m beginning to think the whole system should be private. Talk me off this ledge please.
So let’s go. Sorry they don’t want to hear “go to a budget meeting”. But GO TO A BUDGET MEETING! Public school finances are too damn complex to talk about on Facebook and really get a solid handle on them. But why not try again?
Their math isn’t wrong but it is the wrong kind of math. Districts do not determine per student funding by adding up the budget and dividing by the number of kids enrolled, although that seems like a much better way to do it than the way it’s done now.
Christina, and all districts in Delaware, have little control over how much money is spent on each student. Nearly all the formulas used to figure that out come directly from the State of Delaware. However much money the State determines each student “deserves” *in total*, Christina foots approximately 35% of it through property taxes.
In previous years, the District was responsible for <30% of the cost. Over the last 8 years the State has continued to chip away at the amount of money spent on education. This year is no different. The State raised the amount each student must get by 0.52% and at the same time said they wouldn’t be funding that increase, which means local money from each District has to cover that increase.
This is the breakdown of our non-special services, regular education per student funding for 2015-16 school year. This is the amount of money, collected through our property taxes, that Christina School District spends per student. We, in this District, do not pay $14,000 per student. We pay an average of $3,913 per student in grades K-12. So what the hell is that $13,000 cost per student number you find on the District profile on Delaware Dept of Ed’s website? That’s an average of ALL sources of funding for our students, that’s all money that comes from the State + all money that comes from the District + all money that comes via the Federal gov’t that rolls up to an AVERAGE cost per student in our District. It is NOT what we pay from property taxes per student.
You can pay $12,000 to send your child to a private school in Newark. But you, the parent, are paying that entire $12,000 for your child. Send your child to a public school, and you’re paying a fraction of what it costs to deliver an education to your child.
My property tax bill for schools last year (on my $189,000 townhome assessed at $50,000 ) was around $1,120. I have two children in the District. I paid $560 in taxes for each of their educations last year. If I had both of them in private school, my school tax would still have been $1,120. Plus $24,000 for private tuition. I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell can’t afford $25,120 a year for school right now.
The current total *school tax* rate is $2.09/$100 assessed value of property. Of that $2.09, $1.42 of it is the *Operating Tax* rate. The Operating Tax rate is what was up for referendum twice. (I won’t get into the New Castle County Tax Pool dipping into that $1.42, that’s another discussion).
The first increase that the BOARD wanted (not the District) was, I believe, $0.65 phased in over 3 years. OMG THAT’S 46% INCREASE IN TAX……RATE. Increase in your tax RATE. That does NOT = a 46% increase in your taxes paid. Why?
Let’s say that $0.65 was approved, and it all went into effect right away. The rate went from $2.09 to $2.74. The tax RATE is now $2.74/$100 of assessed value. For my house @ $50,000, my NEW school tax bill this year would be: $50,000/$100 = 500. 500 x $2.74 = $1,370
$1,370 is not double of $1,120. So what % increase is that in my ACTUAL taxes paid? $1,370-$1,120= $250 $250/$1,120 = 0.223 x 100 = 22.3% increase. Not even close to doubling.
Well we know the first time failed hard. So what if the second time passed? The DISTRICT asked for and the Board approved a $0.37 increase phased in over 3 years. Let’s take the same scenario. It passed, and all $0.37 went in right away. Our new tax RATE is $2.46/$100.
My new tax bill is: $50,000/$100 = 500. 500 x $2.46 = $1,230. Well how much did it go up this time?! $1,230-$1,120= $110. $110/$1,120 = 0.098 x 100 = 9.8% tax increase. Again, not even close to doubling.
Again, total budget/# students isn’t wrong math but it doesn’t do jack to help figure out how we spend money per-student and whether or not the money is being spent “correctly”.
I said before, during, and now after the referendum, I’m available to talk to anyone about this. I’ll answer any question you throw at me. If you don’t want to come to a budget meeting (although you should), I’ll come to you. Public school finances in this State are not easy to understand. It’s way too damn complex, but I’m willing to help anyone get a better understanding of it. Google won’t do anything for you. Talk to someone who actually knows something about how it works (or doesn’t work).