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March 22, 2006

What makes it a good school?

I've been working on a personal update for my high school update, which in a roundabout way lend me to the Stuyvesant High School Wikipedia entry. It points out that spending per student at Stuyvesant is below the average for public schools in NYC. At first I thought, "thats neat, look how much good they do with an average amount of money". Yes there must be some donations, but the school has 3500 kids so it only works out to about $100 per student.But then my thoughts drifted to Stuy's fancy building.

The new ten-floor building, located near lower Manhattan's financial district, was constructed at a cost of about $148 million, and includes 65 classrooms with about 450 computers on 13 networks, 7 pairs of escalators, various indoor sporting facilities including two gymnasiums and a pool built to Public Schools Athletic League standards, a theater with acoustics and lighting to accommodate music and drama productions, two lecture halls with movable partitions, a skylit cafeteria overlooking the Hudson River, 12 science laboratories (including a molecular biology lab and an analytical chemistry lab) and special shops for instruction in ceramics, photography, wood, plastics, metal work, robotics, and energy studies...The school's library has a capacity of 40,000 volumes and overlooks Battery Park City...the $10 million TriBeCa Bridge was built to allow students to enter the building without having to cross the busy West Street.

So if you include capital costs of the $158 million facilities, it no longer seems that low. Even at 5% total cost of capital that adds $2250 per student per year. A few years ago I took a look at spending per public school student in NYC and found it was $10,513. Since special education students are especially expensive to educate and they are 10% of the kids, and costs about three times as much, That only leaves about $7000 per student. Let say Stuy gets average funding. That's a 30% bonus from the implied capital charges. Sure, other schools have buildings they they too get to use for free. That said, few, if any other schools in NYC are nice, advanced, and large as Stuyvesant. So to say the school has low spending per student, is, at a minimum, misleading.

Posted by OneEyedMan at March 22, 2006 11:49 AM


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