Dysart spending in line with peers

Dysart Unified School District has been able to integrate new education programs and keep spending in line with its peers throughout the state. [Submitted Photo]
By Jennifer Jimenez, Independent Newsmedia

The Dysart Unified School District spends in line with peer districts for classroom instruction.

That was a conclusion of the Auditor General’s District Spending Report that ended June 30, 2016. The report was presented at the April 12 DUSD Governing Board meeting by Executive Director of Business Services Jack Eaton.

The report was broken up into several key areas and gives insight into the district and how they compare to peer and state averages.

“The biggest part of our budget is spent on instruction at 55.8 percent, compared to our peer average of 56.2 percent. If you look at the state average it is 53 percent, so we do better than the state and are comparable to our peers,” Mr. Eaton said.

The next highest categories included plant operation (11.3 percent), administration (9.5 percent) and student support (8.9 percent).

Board member Tracy Sawyer-Sinkbeil asked if all the districts were under the same requirements. Mr. Eaton explained they are all compared the same, but there are variations in terms of what gets reported in each category, adding he makes sure Dysart is doing it correctly.

“We all have the same guidelines, but there is some matter of interpretation,” he said.

In the area of efficiency measures relative to peer averages, Dysart was lower than the peers and state, with cost per pupil at $615.

“In terms of dollars per students we are lower in almost all categories and that goes hand and hand with instruction,” Mr. Eaton said.

Board member Christine Pritchard was curious as to why Dysart is so low in the area of per pupil spending versus other districts and the state, to which Mr. Eaton said if the gross total was higher, those numbers would increase.

“In 2015-16 the override failure was very significant and we had to cut $6 million that was earmarked primarily for the classroom,” Mr. Eaton said.

Dysart Superintendent Dr. Gail Pletnick said people are astonished to know librarians and nurses are listed outside of classroom dollars.

“Administration and administrative assistants are also in those categories as well and that is difficult for people to understand, but says the district does not control that,” Dr. Pletnick said.

Mr. Eaton said the district is considered “very high” in terms of spending in the operational area of transportation.

The cost per mile is $4.35 compared to $3.58 for the peer and $3.72 for the state averages.

“The cost per rider for us is $1,622, compared to the peer average of $1,168 and the state average of $1,092,” he said.

Mr. Eaton said looking back over the last five years of what the district has been spending on transportation, there is a significant improvement in terms of costs, while transporting about the same number of miles.

This has also decreased the expenditure per mile in the last five years.

“When I look at cost per pupil the cost has decreased over time although inflation has created challenges due to the age of our fleet and we had to replace 20 buses out of our 150 fleet this year. So we should start seeing those savings next year,” Mr. Eaton said.

Mr. Eaton said the district has been able to decrease the funding to this area from $3.5 million to $3.2 million two years ago to $1.8 million, which it stands at today. But he says that’s still $1.8 million dollars the district uses on transportation and is not available for classroom instruction.

“We run over 2 million miles per year on our buses and we are working to try to narrow this gap,” he said.

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