For the first time, Missouri is reporting how much is spent per child at every school in the state.
It’s a requirement of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that’s supposed to help ensure equitable access and opportunity for all children.
There are many reasons why per-pupil spending levels vary within a district, though.
“It could be the programs that are offered at that school, it could be the staff experience at that school,” Missouri Deputy Education Commissioner Roger Dorson said. “The school may have teachers that have a lot of experience and are paid more.”
For example, a school that serves a lot of English-language learners might get more funding than a nearby school in the same district with few students in need of bilingual support. It’s also really common for districts to spend a lot more on high school students than elementary or middle school students.
This data is supposed to provide transparency for how districts and schools allocate their resources. But there are some limitations. It still isn’t easy to find out how much money a school is fundraising, for example, and that’s a big component of charter school budgets.
“This is a work in progress,” Dorson said. “This is the first year out.”
You can look up your child’s school below.
Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.
Brent Jones is the data visualization specialist at St. Louis Public Radio. Follow him on Twitter @brentajones.