Running the Numbers for Gloucester

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Today’s Globe has a piece on Gloucester’s issues with schools, which encompass fiscal pressures and the controversial launch of a new charter school.

It intrigued me enough to dig into some of the data that is available. A few observations:

State Department of Revenue figures show Gloucester’s school spending going from $27.2m in 2000 to $31.3m in 2009, a relatively modest increase of 15%. Yet other town spending goes from $27.3m to $49.6m over the same period, an increase of 82%. Health insurance costs account for about $7m in increased costs, but what is the rest of it? Is it indicative of the town’s priorities?

• From 2000 to 2009, Gloucester’s population has been stable, declining by only 30 people to 30,243. Yet school enrollment has declined precipitously from 4,115 to 3,324*. Shouldn’t a stable tax base (at least in terms of population) be able to support a significantly smaller student body?

I’d love to see Peter Schworm follow up on the story (or perhaps kick it over to the Steven Rosenberg, the best Globe write you’ve never read, unless you live on the North Shore).

*DESE’s Foundation Enrollment and Long-Term Enrollment Trends data do not foot out to each other. Both show a decline but Foundation is much less (roughly 300 or so students) but I believe its got a built in lag.