More kids = More school expenditures, right?

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Seems like a reasonable idea, and the basis for Chapter 70 Education aid, as well as the implicit justification for many towns in their zoning practices.

However, a recent study by the notorious right-wingers at the UMass Donahue Institute found something very different in their recent study on the impact of affordable housing on school costs:

Our analysis showed that school teaching staff levels and overall expenditures increased independently of changes in enrollment. From 1999 to 2004, school enrollments statewide were essentially flat, with 0.2 percent total growth, while the employment of full time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff increased by eight percent. Despite very limited growth in enrollment, total school expenditures grew by 28.6 percent statewide from 1999 to 2004. During the same period in two of our case study communities, Falmouth and Sandwich’s educational expenditures increased 25.6 percent and 32.8 percent, respectively, despite declines in enrollments of 12 and 6 percent. The full report analyzed year-over-year changes in enrollment and educational expenditures in each of the cases study communities. The full analysis shows that, in short, there are clear fiscal pressures on municipalities due to educational costs but there is no evidence that student enrollment growth is the cause of the budgetary problems. [Emphasis added.]

Hmm, so what is it then? Is it the cost of lowering the student-teacher ratio? Or the cost of escalation in salaries and benefits? Curiouser and curiouser….

More on the meat of the study later.