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The Fiscal Effects of School Choice Programs on Public School Districts

March 1, 2012
By Bejamin Scafidi

In the first-ever study of public school districts’ fixed costs in every state and DC, Benjamin Scafidi concludes approximately 36 percent of school district spending cannot be quickly reduced when students leave, such as for a school choice program.

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In the first-ever study of public school districts’ fixed costs in every state and DC, Benjamin Scafidi concludes approximately 36 percent of school district spending cannot be quickly reduced when students leave, such as for a school choice program. Scafidi finds the remaining 64 percent, or approximately $8,000 per student on national average, are variable costs, ones that change directly with student enrollment. This means a school choice program attaching less than $8,000 to each child who leaves a public school for a private school actually leaves the district with more money to spend on each remaining child. In the long run, he notes, all local district spending is variable, meaning all funds could be attached to individual children over time without creating fiscal disasters for government schools.

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Education