Philly Charter School Beats Springfield

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has launched giving residents greater access to the balance sheets of Pennsylvania’s schools, says State Rep. Jim Cox (R-129).

He says the website shows school spending by district, including total revenue, total expenditures, per-pupil expenditures and average staff salaries, albeit we could not find the average staff salaries and we had to figure out the per-pupil expenditures ourselves.

The website also tracks charter and cyber charter schools, and comprehensive career and technology centers, Cox says.

And it includes academic performance.

We decided to have some fun with it comparing Philadelphia Academy Charter School with the Springfield School District  in Delaware County.

Philadelphia Academy spends $9.475 million on instruction for 1,180 pupils which is $8,029 per pupil.

Springfield spends $34,054,290 for 3,907 pupils or $8,716 per pupil.

The extra $687 per pupil — which translates to $2,684,109 per year to the taxpayer — isn’t something to sneeze at but if it means more engineers and doctors and a cure for cancer who will object, right?

Some cynic here might chime in and and ask what if it doesn’t, well, we’ll get to that.

Philadelphia Academy’s total spending is $15,598,815 or $13,219 per pupil.

Springfield’s is $59,441,901 or $15,214 per pupil.

Philly Charter School Beats Springfield High SchoolThat’s $1,995 more per pupil which adds up to $7,794,465 per year to the taxpayer. While salaries to attract great teachers might be justifiable, one can see where the extra money for non-instructional use and support might make someone laid off or living on a fixed income feel a mite resentful.

But if a cure for cancer is coming, it is worth it, right?

Which gets us to the academics.

We should note here that 33 percent of Philadelphia Academy’s pupil population is “economically disadvantaged” with 20.76 percent in special education compared to 14.5 percent “economically disadvantaged” with 15.87 percent in special education for Springfield.

The school performance of Philadelphia Academy is higher than Springfield High School for mathematics/algebra (84.22 percent proficient or advanced on PSSA to 75.27) and science/biology (68.71 percent to 42.96) although SHS wins on reading/literature (87.36 percent to 77.28)

Regarding elementary education specifically, at least with regard to reading, Springfield wins with 89.7 percent of Scenic Hills pupils and 83.65 percent of Sabold’s pupils being  proficient or advanced on reading as per the PSSA while  Philadelphia Academy’s score was 80.6 percent.

We kind of think the great engineers and doctors and the cure for cancer are more likely to come out of Philadelphia Academy.

Really Springfield, a 42.96 percent proficiency in science/biology?

Hey, let’s build a $144 million Taj Mahal. That’ll fix it.

Philly Charter School Beats Springfield

Philly Charter School Beats Springfield
As per a Philly charter school beats Springfield public school district.

Yes, a Philly charter school beats a highly regarded suburban school district on several metrics.

And Philly charter school Philadelphia Academy Beats Springfield

4 thoughts on “Philly Charter School Beats Springfield”

  1. Bill, I appreciate the analysis but as someone who is very involved in education policy issues in the City of Philadelphia, I wanted to point out that you are not necessarily comparing apples to apples on the financial side. This isn’t intended to make any judgement one way or another on the proposed high school. I just wanted to point out some potential flaws for you to consider.

    First, and most importantly, you are comparing the annual costs of an entire school district against an individual charter school. As a result, many costs are not included in the Philadelphia Academy financial totals. For example, the costs of bussing students (or SEPTA tokens, as the case may be) are paid for by the Philadelphia School District, not the charter school. Similarly,ball of the administrative costs that come with running a school district would show up as costs for the Philly and Springfield School Districts but you wouldn’t see them as costs for the charter school.

    1. That’s a fair point, Pete, but it should get the ball rolling and make all understand it isn’t about spending money and building monuments but imparting necessary knowledge while recognizing that the pockets of those who pay the bills are not infinitely deep and that unnecessary spending can cause many to experience true suffering

      The thing I most took away from it was not the spending difference, as important it was, but Springfield’s score in science proficiency compared to Philadelphia Academy.

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