School Spending in San Diego

User Forum Topic
Submitted by jg on November 5, 2006 - 5:27pm

The San Diego Unified School District spends only 53% of its funds on "inside the classroom" items:  teacher salaries, benefits, supplies, and class materials.

An additional 7% is spent on maintenance.

40% is spent on who knows what.

The state average on "inside the classroom" items is 62%.  The typical Catholic school spends 80% on such.

Amazing.  We need a recession/depression to force politicians' hands and clean this mess up.

When we lived in Sacramento, we sent our kids to the best elementary school in town (The Brookfield School), which was private.  The campus was incredibly modest:  it was a series of old classrooms on the site of a synagogue, and the classrooms were available for the school Mon.-Fri.  The school spent the money on great teachers and small classes, and had strict discipline and uniforms.  The place was cold and damp, and had the simple feel of an old one room schoolhouse.  But, kids learned, and learned well, and the cost was less than what the state and federal authorities spend per child here in California, ~$11-12K.

Submitted by no_such_reality on November 5, 2006 - 6:49pm.

I've always been of the opinion that people need to do basic math when the teachers union cries poverty.

Average funding per pupil: $11,000.
Kids in your kids class: 30.
Funding per class: $330,000.
Average Teacher Salary: $65,000.
Teacher Benefits: $35,000.
(Teacher subtotal) $100,000.
Books ($1000/student): $30,000.
Classroom/Building Maintenance: $70,000.
(Classroom subtotal) $100,000.
Total class spending $200,000.
Unaccounted bereuacracy $130,000.

And let's think about it, is it really costing $70,000 per classroom to build and maintain the schools?

Submitted by lostkitty on November 6, 2006 - 5:05am.

"And let's think about it, is it really costing $70,000 per classroom to build and maintain the schools?"

My only experience with schools has been in Coronado and now NY. The difference is stunning:

In Coronado, gorgeous new massive buildings and classrooms, lots of constant maintenance and new fields, new equipment, expensive artsy sunshades over the playground, etc etc etc..... but average learning. Very little music, art, foreign language, poor math & science coverage and equipment and just mediocre volume of information learned in general. They are always touting their test scores, but I can tell you from experience (I went to TPines) that the education is very specific... not well-rounded. I couldnt have argued about politics, science, or history with an adult the way the kids around here can.

In NY, old brick buildings, old chairs, old sinks and bathrooms (not dirty or disgusting, just old - would have been replaced long ago in CA), old floors, the parents take care of any planting or landscape other than the mowers and most basic shrub shearing (and the shrubs were planted 30+ years ago and often should go), teachers dressed up every day in ties, dress shirts, etc, equal number of male & female teachers (dont see that much anymore in CA), and best yet.... EXCELLENT subject matter, and a lot of it.

In our tiny elementary school, a full band, full orchestra, with two teachers (one for each group and even AIDES in these groups), weekly private or semi-private lessons at school (depending on the instrument, but never more than two or three kids in a group) AND a third who teaches basic music theory to all kids and runs three choruses which all participate in. All three have at least a Masters in music. As a matter of fact, most of the classroom teachers at our school have a Master's. This is a PUBLIC school.

The reason we have such different quality of schools? The "Right" will say TAXES!!!! (because they are high in NY no doubt about it). But that is not the reason - our teachers do not get paid too differently, the reason is... lower cost of living, specifically housing. A man or woman can actually CHOOSE teaching as a profession, and live comfortably. Own a home, have a family, drive a decent car, take vacations. Can't do that on a teacher's salary in CA.

I love CA. Loved growing up there, and hold out hope it turns around (which is probably why i keep coming back to this site even though i no longer am looking to move back).

Incidentally, I posted in early summer about many houses coming up for sale here entitled "Not in MY Neighborhood". As an update: Although it was slow, I am now seeing nothing but SOLD signs everywhere. So I guess things have slowed to normal, but not died. We've had four on my street alone turnover this summer, and all sold briskly, and for only the usual price negotiation. None were flippers, just people getting older and leaving. Nothing notable.

Submitted by sddreaming on November 6, 2006 - 10:41am.

Hi everyone. I'm a San Diego transplant to Ann Arbor, Michigan. I've been a sporadic reader of this site for a long time. I started when I watched in shock as San Diego housing sky rocketed for no apparently logical reason. Anyways, lately I've been thinking of returning to San Diego. My biggest concern is along the lines of this thread, how is San Diego to raise children? I have a 7 year old and a 4 year old. When I was in San Diego, I didn't have children, so I never paid much attention to schools and other factors. Those of you with children, are you satisfied with the quality of education your children are receiving in San Diego? Are the San Diego schools a victim of corrupt spending?

Submitted by sdrealtor on November 6, 2006 - 10:57am.

I have children the same age as you and am very pleased with the education my children get. The key is being able to afford to live in a top ranked school district. The school my kids go to has very involved parents which make up for shortfalls and are the biggest reason the schools are top ranked. Parents that value education, are motivated to support it AND are able to support it are crucial. There are always parent voluneteers in the class room and there are constant fundraisers. We continuously donate school supplies, provide rides for field trips and support our schools in any way possible. I am very satisfied with the quality of their education.

As a footnote I grew up in another part of the country and attended public schools that are consistently among the best in the country so I believe that I have a good basis for comparison.

Another footnote, while I was fortunate to attend very privileged public schools, the schools we competed with in sports were extremely underprivileged and in some of the most dangerous cities in America.

Sadly, if you are not as fortunate (and make no mistake I feel VERY fortunate) to live in such an area I suspect much of what you fear is true. However, it is likely true for most areas of the the country.

Submitted by sddreaming on November 6, 2006 - 11:33am.

Thanks for your comments sdrealtor. What school district are your children in? Assuming your children, like mine, are in elementary schools, how do the middle and high schools in your district rate? Ann Arbor does a great job with its lower level schools, but not as well with the high schools.

Submitted by no_such_reality on November 6, 2006 - 11:51am.

lostkitty, what part of NY are you talking about? It doesn't sound like NYC proper or even the burroughs, but more like the better-off suburbs west of the city or on the island.

Submitted by sdrealtor on November 6, 2006 - 11:55am.

My children are in the Encinitas School district and will attend the San Dieguito School District for middle and high school which are also very good. The upper level schools drop off a little as students get mixed in from some of the lower socio-economic schools in the area but are still very good. Its all up to the parents in my eyes to stay involved. I find the area I live in to be very family oriented and not nearly as pretentious as where I grew up.

BTW, my big bro went to U of M. Go Blue!

Submitted by Carlsbadliving on November 6, 2006 - 12:52pm.

I think you need to check your math, because the average teacher salary in SD is $54,000/yr and i'm guessing that the benefits aren't over $20,000.

Not sure where you got $100,000? 

Submitted by CardiffBaseball on November 6, 2006 - 2:02pm.

Our experience is quite similar with sdrealtor's, we are in Cardiff, which next year merges (for my 6th grader) into San Dieguito schools. We are thinking about Santa Fe Christian at that point, but I don't know that it's because we are unhappy with San Dieguito.

In any case Big Blue goes down hard in less than two weeks. You see it's a new era, the Tressel era, and he has a mojo going over Lloyd Carr.

Submitted by Wickedheart on November 6, 2006 - 2:11pm.

Thanks for the link, too bad it doesn't provide information on the average teacher's educational level too. My husband works for the SDUSD as an elementary PE Prep teacher. I don't believe that he is overcompensated for his job considering his level of education and experience. He has 8 years with the district, a BA in PE, a Masters in Reading with 90 units and he makes $55,000 a year. He also pays out of his own pocket for any new equipment he needs for his PE program every year.

Submitted by VCJIM on November 6, 2006 - 2:11pm.


After reading your post, I've decided to move to NY.

Submitted by no_such_reality on November 6, 2006 - 5:16pm.

Not sure where you got $100,000?

I was being capriciously generous with the salary to show how much money was unaccounted for in spending when parents stop to figure out the math for how many students are in their kids class.

Submitted by jg on November 6, 2006 - 10:39pm.

WH, why pay for degrees? Why pay for years? Sounds union-like to me. Doesn't work that way in the private sector, unless you're in a unionized job.

I've seen folks earn over $100K per year as practical engineers. They had no B.S., but were very skilled with tools and software, and were creative and had lots of accomplishments (e.g., new products) under their belt. To me, that's worth paying for.

How to arrive at such in teaching? In business school, we evaluated teachers at the end of the quarter, and the scores were made public, for students to use as they selected their classes for the following quarter. I assume that the Dean used the scores to weed out ineffective teachers, because the lion's share of my teachers were highly effective.

Just food for thought.

Submitted by sddreaming on November 7, 2006 - 8:08am.

Thanks for the feedback CardiffBaseball. I would like to stay coastal when returning to SD. Sounds like schools should not be an issue.

However, I'm a UM alumnus and a die hard Michigan fan, so I'm not so convinced that Big Blue will go down. But, Ohio is awesome this year. I think this is going to be THE Michigan-Ohio game.

Submitted by CardiffBaseball on November 7, 2006 - 10:13am.

Also it's important to think about where you work, and I might have missed that. For me, Cardiff is an easy drive to work off of Genesee in the UTC area. It's a little tougher on the way home but generally under 35 minutes. Besides this area, I considered Rancho Penasquitos because the commute was even faster. Carmel Valley would not have been too bad, but all I could find there were Condos and Apts, and my kids needed a place to throw a baseball.

Depending how far inland you go, you could have another 15-20 minutes to your commute. For instance if I moved to La Costa I'd be adding that amount of time each way. On the other hand, inland La Costa and Encinitas have slightly better deals.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.