In Nigel Jaquiss’ article “Flunk Factories: The ugly truth about graduation rates in Portland’s high schools” in Willamette Week (here), he makes the following statement about high school costs in PPS:
Critics say that PPS’s attachment to community alternative schools comes at the expense of conventional high schools.
Community-based alternatives are expensive, ranging between $7,175 and $14,700 per student per year.
That’s substantially more than PPS spends on students at big-box high schools. Last year, per-student spending at the district’s three largest high schools—Lincoln, Cleveland and Grant—averaged $4,817.
There is, I think, some confusion in the cost accounting here, and Jaquiss may be comparing apples to oranges. The average 2011-12 operating cost per student at the three named high schools is $11,455. Adding an additional $271 in capital cost yields an average per student cost of $11,726.
I do not know where Jaquiss got his $4,817 per student high school spending figure. Perhaps it is some internal PPS allocation average, but it, most certainly, does not include some of the costs incurred by PPS high schools and likewise by those high school programs PPS contracts with.
For an additional view of PPS per student costs see here.
Also, note that elsewhere in his article he has a chart that shows per pupil spending in PPS to be $9,769. How could the average of all students be $9,769 while that of some high school students is only $4,817?
I have been shown (thanks) the source data from which Jaquiss probably calculated his $4,817 figure. It is on page 40 of PPS’s “School Profiles and Enrollment Data: 2012-13” report (here). Although the Oregon Department of Education data is for 2011-12 and the PPS data is for 2012-13, I do not think that alone explains the differences in the numbers. PPS labels the column “Budget per Student” but I do not think that figure includes all costs, not even all the “Direct Classroom” costs, of the DOE report. So I would love to see a further explanation of the “Budget per Student” data.
I still think Jaquiss' spending data is comparing apples and oranges.