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Taxes and Schools: What You May Not Have Known

Updated on October 5, 2010

In recent years, the cost for L.A.'s Robert F. Kennedy's school complex, in the Unified School district, has risen from $309 million to a staggering $578 million. The complex sits on the grounds of the famous Ambassador Hotel. A destructive district payroll and inept management has resulted in expensive lawsuits, underpayments to some, over-payments totaling $60 million and it still does not appear to be fixed yet.

Los Angeles Unified can be labeled none other than a tax payer money wasting machine, charged up on all cylinders and burning though money faster than it can take it in. It is large, loud, overpaid and incompetent. Recent breaking news stories only touch on the surface of just how much this district wastes. It spends much more than its managers are willing to acknowledge and more than most people can believe.

In the fiscal year of 2008, LAUSD budget just under $30,000 for each student.


The district asserts that it only spends $10,000 per student, so the actual spending figure is almost 200% higher.

This method of manipulative accounting is an all too familiar issue for school districts across the nation. It is perpetuated by affluent and poor school districts alike.

When examining budgets for eighteen school district in the United States in the beginning of the year, there were discrepancies found in each and every district. The discrepancies lay between what the schools claim they spend for each student versus the actual cost per student. There were very large gaps between actual and alleged spending in the majority of the districts.

Official per-student expense figures yield a highly misrepresented picture of the resources hard-working Americans appropriate to the public education system. LAUSD is easily the most grievous offender. It is far worse than the initial analysis first uncovered.

School districts often neglect to include considerable expenditures, such as costs for new buildings or the interest due on already incurred debt, when they calculate the per-pupil figures for spending that they publicize. In some districts, it was found that they left off pension payments and teacher's insurance benefits.

This information is absolutely necessary in order to fix the financial mess that has our country entangled.

The formula for doing just that is so simple, it is often deemed nonsensical. In order to gain control of an over-spending budget, one must know the income generated, the out going expenses and to where the money is being allocated. The average American taxpayer spends an average of $600 billion in a single year on Kindergarten through twelfth grade public education. An astounding twenty seven cents of every dollar collected at the local or state level through taxes is consumed by the government run public education system compared to six cents for Medicaid.

As this financial crisis unfolds, the best place to search for savings is in education spending. It is the highest burden placed upon the local and state budgets. It is nearly impossible for policy makers and politicians to gain a clear understanding of where cost-effectiveness could increase because of the lack of knowledge and a clear idea as to the actual spending within the schools.

Federal data allow estimates to be analyzed based on costs of the typical private school expense per-student. In the L.A. area it comes in at just over $8,500 and in other districts much less than that. LA Unified is at a staggering 250% expense rate over private schools. Private schools seem to be a fantastic way of saving money while increasing the level of education students are receiving.

K-12 public education is receiving more than enough money to run smoothly and effectively, however its funds are being misappropriated. Students, their families and all American taxpayers are worthy of a better run and higher quality system of education.


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