Provincetown remains the Cape’s “most expensive school district” with a cost per pupil of $31,195. This figured dropped from $33,811 in FY2012 according to information released by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
Truro earned second place with a per pupil cost of $23,438, up from $20,636.
The four independent elementary districts in the Nauset region cost taxpayers between $19,178 (Brewster) and $21,857 (Wellfleet) per student.
Economy of scale still works
The area’s largest school districts prove economy of scale once again, with Barnstable costing $14,110 per student and Dennis-Yarmouth at $15,545.
Enrolling 2,251 and 2,163 students the Bourne and Monomoy school districts exhibited thrift at $14,311 and $15,769, respectively.
This year’s data once again raises eyebrows when looking at the Lower Cape’s elementary districts, especially when compared with Bourne and Monomoy. Administrative costs in Bourne and Monomoy are only $457.12 and $781.80 per student. The Lower Cape districts’ administrative costs shown on right are shocking in comparison to all other districts.
See the chart at the bottom to see all the school's student costs.
Is there some Lower Cape "sandbagging" going on?
With taxpayers scrutinizing school costs more each year, many people believe it is time for the six Lower Cape elementary districts to merge into the Nauset Regional School District to remove town government overhead from the funding equation. Critics suspect town administrations of “sandbagging” municipal expenses to the school budget.
It is significant to note that in these six elementary districts the cost to educate a student outside the district is significantly less than the per pupil cost to educate a student within the district.
While the financial travails of the Dennis-Yarmouth region are receiving considerable attention at the moment, DY’s $15,545 cost per student remains at the low end of the Cape’s market.
The only Cape district with a per pupil cost lower than the state average of $14,000 is Sandwich, where it cost only $13,348 to educate a child last year.