Orleans school administrative cost are alarming

Nauset Area Elementary Administration Cost Shocker

This chart shows that all four towns in School Union #54 have higher-than average costs assigned to administration.  With Brewster at $948.76, Eastham at $1,747.80 and Wellfleet at $1,373.02, Orleans figure of $3,317 astonishes.

$1.7M for 1,084 kids versus $1.3M for 3,624 kids

In a state where the average administration cost per student is only $446.62, Orleans’ administration cost of $3,317
is truly alarming.
Last week CapeCodToday.com published a story about the per pupil school costs at the Cape’s public school districts.  Data for Fiscal 2011 released by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) indicated that Provincetown and Orleans were the two most expensive school districts on the Cape in terms of per pupil expenditures.

For the moment, we will look beyond Provincetown – not because we don’t love P-Town but because the school district there is shutting down its high school and is sinking below critical mass.

Orleans, on the other hand, appears to be a functioning district with a single elementary school.  While it has suffered loss of enrollment, the school has not significantly reduced faculty in the past decade and many profess to be happy with the costs associated with running the 196 student district.   Comparisons to neighboring Brewster tell a somewhat surprising story on cost versus results.

The administration costs for Provincetown and Orleans are, respectively, the highest and second highest in the state.Today we wanted to examine the individual cost items that caused Orleans to show such a high cost per student.  Scrutinizing the numbers, we came to the cost category of “administration”.

In a state where the average administration cost per student is only $446.62, Orleans’ administration cost of $3,317 is truly alarming. The administration costs for Provincetown and Orleans are, respectively, the highest and second highest in Massachusetts.

We then tried to compare Orleans’ administration cost to the other three towns that comprise School Union #54 – Brewster, Eastham and Wellfleet.

As the accompanying chart shows, all four towns in School Union #54 have higher-than average costs assigned to administration.  With Brewster at $948.76, Eastham at $1,747.80 and Wellfleet at $1,373.02, Orleans figure of $3,317 astonishes.

Next we computed the administration cost per pupil for the four towns in School Union #54 and found they total over $1.7 million for the 1084 elementary students served.

$400k higher than D-Y, $1M more than Nauset

In comparison, the entire PK-12 Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District – with a population of 3,624 students – shows a cost of $1.3 million when one multiplies the number of students by their per pupil administration cost of $365.14.

The Nauset Regional School District, which operates a middle and high school with a combined enrollment of 1,682 multiplies out to a total administration cost of $761,561.59 based on a per student administration charge of $452.61.

Three Questions

Below are a three questions that might be of interest to taxpayers in Brewster, Eastham, Orleans and Wellfleet. 

  1. How are the four elementary districts in School Union #54 coming up with this type of administration cost? 
  2. Exactly what expenses are pulled together to compute the administration cost?
  3. Is 100% of the administrative cost going to staff and operate the school administration department on Eldredge Park Way or are indirect expenses of the individual towns being assessed to the elementary school districts?

Public Records Request

CapeCodToday.com requests that the four towns and School Union #54 administration release detailed information on how they arrive at these per pupil administration cost numbers.  Such data certainly can be compelled under a public records request but we prefer to give those involved a chance to come up with the data on their own and to proffer an explanation in their own words.  This news site will publish such data when it is released along with any words of explanation verbatim as submitted.

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