Facilities are very expensive, and all things being equal, spending less on facilities allows for more money to be spent on instruction.
This report found that in Chicago charters spend 46% less on facilities than does Chicago Public Schools.
I imagine this is a larger deferential than in most districts. And while I don’t I have time to do a full research review, in most jurisdictions I work in I deal with facility costs, and it’s generally the case that charters spend less per student than the district does.
Instead of 46%, let’s consider a lower end estimate of a 15% differential.
Here’s what we spend national on facilities, according to the NCES:
So about ~1K for capital outlay and .37K for interest on debt (which I imagine has a facilities component to it) out of a total of 12.4K.
Let’s call roughly 10% of the per-pupil or 1.2K per student.
Reducing this cost by 15% would save us $180 dollars per student or a 1.5% decrease in total spending.
On an overall budget of $621 billion, we’d save about $9 billion a year.
Let me know if I got my math wrong….
These are all very rough estimates, and while they are fairly conservative, they could be wrong.
But it’s surely plausible that we could shift $10 billion a year from facilities costs to instructional costs by moving to an all charter school system.
Spent well, this could support tutoring, field trips, class size reductions – or whatever educators and families thought best.
To the extent you believe money matters in schooling, it’s worth considering how increasing charter school development can drive more money into educational experiences rather than overpriced buildings.