The Portland Public Schools Board has only one item on its 8/19/14 agenda titled "Business Agenda." But within that "Business Agenda" are twelve contracts for alternative education, largely for high school students, with community based organizations totaling $8.1 million. Information is provided in the online Board materials (here) with more info from February online here, but no agenda time has been scheduled for discussion. To me, there are some issues raised.
Why does Portland Public Schools spend less per student on the hard-to-serve, potential dropout students in its alternative education options than on students in its other high schools? Does not PPS need to spend more on these students to get their graduation rates up? What is the role of the alternative education options in getting PPS graduation rates up? And, more generally, just what are PPS' strategies for getting graduation rates up?
First, PPS spend $7,309 per "seat" at each of the alternative schools per the following chart.
The following are the operating costs at PPS high schools as reported to the Oregon Department of Education for 2012-13.
Note that "operating cost" does not include allocated capital costs like bond funds and interest for school buildings, so the PPS high schools cost even more of a per student per year basis. For example, the current estimate for the rebuild of Franklin is $104,445,758. Allocating that to 1700 student per year for fifty years would be an additional $1,228.77 per student per year.
The alternative education options are now cost bargains, costing just 54% of Roosevelt's $13,535 per student per year up to 66% of Cleveland's per student per year.
Further note, the December 4, 2013, PPS Segmentation Analysis, as included in Board materials, states:
... it is apparent that the supply of alternative education options was exceeded by demand (see graph below) - in fact, alternative schools had 624 more students than seats. Alternative education providers have been able to absorb these “extra” students in part by serving more students than contracted for....