New data released by the state shows for the first time exactly how much money individual public schools spend per student.
Different to previous reports, the numbers released this year are actual spending rates instead of averages.
The data for Frederick County Public Schools does not show any significant trends, however many schools that reported high expenditures were also running specialized programs.
County Superintendent Terry Alban said the new reporting requirement will allow the school system to view funding and allocation of resources through a greater “equity lens.”
“FCPS is committed to providing equitable distribution of all resources based on the varied needs of students and schools and to promoting clear communication and transparency in allocation of resources," Alban said in a statement.
Spending rates are determined by dividing a school’s costs by the number of enrolled students. Therefore, schools with lower enrollment will typically report higher per-pupil spending.
Numbers can also vary based on factors unique to each school such as maintenance and operation costs and the staff's education and tenure, which determine salaries.
In 2017, a change in the federal legislation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) required every state to report the annual per-pupil spending by individual school, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, instead of district-wide averages.
Based on this year's data, at the high school level, Catoctin High School reported the highest spending rate in the county at $14,248 per student for the 2018-2019 school year, with an enrollment of 761 students. Urbana High School reported the lowest rate of $11,127 per student, with an enrollment of 1,790.
Both high schools also ran the Learning for Life program during the 2018-2019 school year, which provides support to students with a variety of developmental and cognitive disabilities.
At the middle school level, Gov. Thomas Johnson Middle School reported the highest expenditures in the county at $16,321 per student for the 2018-2019 school year, with an enrollment of 509. The middle school ran the Challenges Program, which serves students with autism and/or severe communication disorders.
Urbana Middle School reported the lowest rate at $9,746 per student, with an enrollment of 1,003. The school did not run any specialized programs during the 2018-2019 school year.
For elementary schools, Lewistown Elementary School was the highest in the county, with a spending rate of $22,902 per student. Lewistown enrollment for the 2018-2019 school year was 184 students. The school also ran the Pyramid Program, which is a special education program that serves children who have significant social and emotional difficulties.
New Market Elementary School had the lowest per-pupil spending rate of $10,666 per student, with an enrollment of 693. It did not run any specialized programs.
Earlier this year, the Board of Education discussed the possible closure of Sabillasville Elementary School due its dwindling enrollment and high operating costs. Based on the data released by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) for the 2018-2019 school year, Sabillasville Elementary ranked second-highest in per-pupil spending, behind Lewistown Elementary.
Their rate was $20,223 per student, with an enrollment of 99.
The data was presented to the Board of Education on Wednesday. Board member Liz Barrett asked why the spending rates for FCPS middle schools seemed to be much lower than elementary and high schools.
FCPS Chief Financial Officer Leslie Pellegrino said it's due to different aspects of elementary and high school education that are not present in middle schools.
"At the elementary level, we have smaller class sizes compared to middle schools, so therefore you normally have more personnel at an elementary school," Pellegrino said. "When you look at a high school, you have athletics in there, you have extracurriculars in there, you have the costs of the CTC program."
Data for the 2019-2020 school year is expected to be released by the end of the year, according to Pellegrino.