A reader, Budget Reader, asked some questions about the seemingly low budgeting for APP@Lowell/Lincoln (which to most people's minds are two schools but not to the district). BR followed through and asked the district's Joe Paperman. I thought it worth having its own thread for institutional memory and because several parents have asked the same questions.
This is NOT a thread to start in on APP (so please don't).
A thank you to both BR and Joe Paperman for doing this work.
As a follow-up to my earlier post about the budget document and APP @ Lincoln, I sent my questions to Joe Paperman, who is in charge of budgeting for the District. He was kind enough to send a detailed response:
1. Re: Is APP @ Lincoln still connected in any way to Lowell Elementary (on Capitol Hill):
For item #1 there is no financial link any more. We had a database table we used for putting the documents together and it still had the old name for APP @ Lincoln in it. I’ll make sure we get that changed for the revised version which is coming out on Friday.
2. Re: why APP @ Lincoln has a lower per-student budgeted expenditure than any other elementary school:
For item #2 it is essentially because of the way dollars are pushed out to schools and school size – sort of a perfect storm for APP@Lincoln.
Staffing - Gen Ed teachers are allocated to all elementary schools based on enrollment at each grade. Most schools would show up pretty much the same on that measure but because the contractual class size is larger at higher grades (26 for K-3 and 28 for 4-5) and APP @ Lincoln is weighted towards the higher grades due to the way students enter there is a small effect on the average dollars allocated per student. Other staffing is based on student characteristics but is added on top of the general ed allocations. At elementary one ELL teacher is allocated for every 45 ELL student – APP @ Lincoln has ZERO ELL students and thus has no allocation. This means they automatically have a lower cost per student than any school with ELL students. Special Ed teachers are allocated at a rate of 1 per 18 SM 1 students. APP @ Lincoln has 6 SpEd students and thus they only get a 0.4 FTE resource teacher (rounded up to the closest .2). This ratio puts them by far at the lowest percentage SpEd students in the district thus again lowering their cost versus other schools. Finally the big add for many schools is the self contained SpEd class rooms. So with gen ed ratios the cost per kid for APP is around $3,632 for the teachers ($87,169/27 kids per teacher +12.5% for PCP time). Our cheapest self contained room per student is a 9 student to 1 teacher and 1 IA ratio which gives a cost of around $16,000 per kid (the highest self contained is around $25,000 per kid). Adding a self contained class or two in an elementary thus drives the average way up (check out the Lowell building which has a high ratio of self contained SpEd for example).
Discretionary Dollars – Every elementary school gets the same basic allocation per kid at $93 each so that has no affect. Additional dollars are pushed out at about $212 for every FRL (Free and Reduced Lunch) student. APP has 3, so they get about $600, or $1 per kid on average. The average across the district is around 40% FRL so most schools get about $80 added per kid.
Grant Money – We give schools either Title I or LAP grant money with the Title I going to the schools with the highest needs based on FRL %. Obviously with their low FRL numbers APP is not a Title I school. LAP dollars are allocated out based on the number of FRL students but the rate per student is also a sliding amount base on the FRL %. So with the lowest % FRL in the district they get the lowest rate also multiplied by the lowest number of students (only 3 of them). So the LAP allocation for APP is pretty much non-existent.
So all of the above – the goal is to push money out to school based on student need. The measures of student need are SpEd, ELL and FRL – APP comes in last place on pretty much every measure of need (by a large margin) and thus has a way lower allocation per student.
Lastly there is a scale factor. There are fixed costs (only 1 principal) and as one of the largest schools the cost per student get’s pushed down. The one area where APP would come in higher than other schools is transportation. At the district we record all the transportation costs centrally rather than at the schools so it’s not included in the numbers presented.