Wu, Skipper Respond To Census Bureau Data On High BPS Spending Per Student

Photo: Madison Rogers (WBZ)

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Boston Public Schools ranks highest in the nation for spending per student in large school districts, according to recent data from the United States Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau published the 2021 Annual Survey of School System Finances on May 18, which provided data about public school spending in FY 2021.

The report stated that of the 100 largest school systems by enrollment, Boston City Schools topped the list of districts that spent the most money per pupil during the 2020-2021 school year with $31,397. This represented a near-13 percent increase in spending from the previous year, according to census data.

New York City School District in New York ranked second ($29,931) and Washington Schools in District of Columbia ranked third ($24,535).

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper met with students at Charlestown High School Wednesday to discuss business opportunities built into the high school curriculum. Afterwards, Wu and Skipper addressed concerns about the district's high cost of spending, even as enrollments decline and state standardized test scores are low.

"We believe that [the Census Bureau] included some other things around pensions, things that we don’t typically include," Skipper said. "It was also based on sort of the last four years, and I think when we look at BPS--certainly when I’ve looked back at it, not having been here--there were some deep investments that needed to be made."

Skipper noted that upcoming inclusion changes in the works will bring costs down.

"We always want to be fiscally responsible in everything we do, and I think some of the changes that we will be making in inclusion for the district, in expanding native and bilingual education in the district, these will have [a] cost savings advantage in the sense of transportation, opening up choice for families," said Skipper.

Mayor Wu said the district is trying to tackle "problems and challenges that have been affecting our district for, in some cases, decades."

Wu added that the district is focusing on "improvements that can then unlock the potential and possibility for all of our young people. The extra curriculars, youth sports and arts and wraparound supports that our young people need before and after school, and then social and emotional supports, we are there. The road map is set, we are putting all the pieces in place."

The Census Bureau said preliminary FY 2022 data is set to be released in the fall of 2023.

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