RBJ Report: District spending per child

Updated: 07/11/2014 8:38 PM
Created: 07/11/2014 6:24 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen

How much on average does your child’s school district spend on each student? It is just one of the questions being asked as part of a closer look into local school districts and how they spend your tax money.

On Thursday night, News10NBC brought you one part of a report that our news partners at the Rochester Business Journal put together.  On Friday, we are looking at another factor, which is what local districts spend on each student.

Out of 27 districts in Monroe and Ontario Counties, Wheatland-Chili Schools spend more money per student than any other district.

When it comes to school spending, many in the town of Wheatland feel it is far from a bargain. 

Natalie Alepoudakis said, “It is a lot of money we are spending for sure.”

Our news partner at the Rochester Business Journal compiled a report card of local school districts. In one analysis, it ranked the schools in Monroe and Ontario County by how much money is spent per student. Top on the list is Wheatland-Chili, where taxpayers spend more than $24,000 per student last school year. Rounding out the top five were Gates Chili, East Irondequoit, East Rochester and the Rochester City School District.


Alepoudakis said, "The enrollment is way down. I think they should be able to spend less money."

With just under 700 students enrolled, Wheatland-Chili is the smallest in Monroe County. Cathy Haake says she wouldn't live anywhere else and that the cost per student is money well spent.

Cathy Haake said, "One of the reasons we moved here is because we don't have a huge school. Everybody knows everybody else. There are a lot of good things."

News10NBC went to the district office to find out more about how that money is spent. Wheatland-Chili Superintendent Deborah Leh did not want to speak on camera, but did agree to meet with us and answer our questions. She says the number is simply a matter of economies of scale. Despite being small, she says they still have to have teachers to teach, facilities and transportation. She says they have taken a number of steps to be cost effective through shared services in areas of food service, IT and business services.

But taxpayer Ben Schifano, who has lived in the town of Wheatland for 25 years, says he is not seeing enough return on his investment.

Ben Schifano said, "If we were the number one district in the area I'd say, ‘Well geez, that's well worth the money maybe.’ But I don't think we are." 

The Rochester Business Journal also breaks down superintendent and teacher’s pay. Wheatland-Chili ranks 18th in superintendent’s pay and 19th in teacher’s pay. 

To see the full report on spending, click here.

To see the full report on teachers' pay, click here

To see the full report on superintendent's pay, click here.

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