The Two Million Dollar School
In early November 1987, Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig issued two pages of charts and accompanying narrative entitled The Average Costs of a California School 1985–86. This document presented a brief, composite picture of California school expenditures for fiscal year 1985-86 (the most recent year in which full fiscal information was available) in order to provide a "clearly understandable picture of California schools and how they spend their resources."
In summary form, this analysis divided school expenditures into four categories, or cost centers (Chart 1). The description of a hypothetical school and the division of a school district's budget into expenditures within classroom, school, district, and state cost centers is useful in providing an overall picture of school expenditure patterns. The summary, however, was limited by the level of detail and often masked the incredible scope, diversity, and complexity of California's public school system.
The purpose of this report is to review the department's initial analysis and to provide additional detail, to add a sense of reality to the notion of the hypothetical composite school, to provide information that the state level about the magnitude of various expenditures, and to serve as an analytical base for further exploration of issues surrounding school expenditures in California. Data were provided by State Department of Education staff, who worked closely with PACE in developing this report.