Charter schools spend more on administration than traditional public schools

While charter school advocates criticize public school bureaucracies as bloated and wasteful, it turns out that charters spend more on administration and less on instruction than traditional public schools, according to a new study led by a Michigan State University scholar.

The study, which examines school spending in Michigan, found that spend nearly $800 more per on administration and $1,100 less on instruction, said David Arsen, MSU professor of education and lead researcher on the project. The study controls for factors such as funding levels, student enrollment and school location.

"Michigan's traditional public school districts devote 60.5 percent of total expenditures to instruction, while charters devote only 47.4 percent," the study says. "Charter schools spend less on both basic instruction and added-needs instruction, which includes , career-tech and adult education."

The study doesn't examine the reasons for the in spending. But Arsen said it's likely related to the fact that 84 percent of traditional public schools' expenditures are related to personnel costs – mostly salaries and benefits – thus driving instructional costs up.

When it comes to administration costs, charter schools dedicated more than $500 per pupil to general administrative services such as paying organizations to run the school.

Explore further

Charter schools no cure-all for black students, says study

Citation: Charter schools spend more on administration than traditional public schools (2012, April 13) retrieved 19 August 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Apr 13, 2012
Just two more scams in the overall swindle of the Ameican "education" system, charter schools, but also, administrators. A local civic leader wants some more scratch, so they put their wife on as as "administator". They never have to show up, and when they do, they just sit in their office. The schools already have it all wired so they can publish any grades they want and no one questions them! The article describes academic costs as down, which is suggested as endangering student achievement, yet, look anywhere on the internet at charter schools and you'll see them all touted as immense successes! Every new "system" has been just a money making scheme!

Apr 13, 2012
Greed may be just dandy in the world of dog eat dog finance, but it shows poorly in public oriented, humanitarian centered conditions. Starve a kid or old widow to puff that bottom line. Anything to make a buck.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more