Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Check My Math...PLEASE!

My Boston Herald column today is about the whining over MCAS from unmotivated teachers and students, and the abysmally low standards of the Massachusetts school system.

Having said that, math has never been my best subject, so I'd like for those of you who are gifted in this area to please take a look over my shoulder at some calculations I've been making re: the Boston government-run school system.

According to this article from the Boston Globe-Democrat, the taxpayers of Boston are chipping in an additional $10 million to this year's school budget. That brings the Boston Public Schools budget to $827.5 million.

According to the Massachusetts DOE, total enrollment in the Boston school system has been dropping steadily and is now down to 56,190. But even that number is high, because average daily enrollment--the number of kids actually sitting in classes and using school services--is around 91% of enrollment.

So in fact we are spending $827.5 million on the operating budget (no capital costs or the like) to teach about 51, 200 kids. OK?

Which means, by my calculations, we're spending around $16, 100 per student for 180 instructional days in the Boston government schools each year. That's about $90 a day, or $1800 a month.

Am I right? And if my math is correct, isn't the only reaction to this...HOLY CRAP!

I don't care how you spin it, $16,000 is a lot of money. I could get my kids an amazing education for that kind of dough. I'd have enough for a private school, with cash left over for summer camp and some private tutoring.

Am I missing something? Please help. As a public school student myself, my math is suspect. Please let me know if my numbers--and my "Holy Crap!" reaction--check out with you.