Differences in expenditure amounts per student among schools, districts and boroughs are caused by many factors. Concentrations and intensity of student needs differ among schools, districts, and boroughs, based on the associated costs. Some of the major causes for these differences are outlined below.
a) Size and composition of the population of students with disabilities: Schools with a high percentage of students with disabilities enrolled, and/or a high percentage of students with more intensive needs (restrictive class settings, related services, etc.) will result in those schools having a higher overall per student expenditure per capita.
b) Eligibility for Federal and State non-competitive funds: Schools with high concentrations of the following types of students may be eligible for more categorical funding than other schools, resulting in higher per student expenditures: students in poverty, with large limited English language proficient populations, large immigrant populations, or low academic performance.
c) Schools with high enrollment relative to building capacity: These schools may require additional services such as education paraprofessionals, safety officers or leases, thereby increasing per student costs.
d) Schools with low enrollment relative to capacity: Such schools may have small classes, which results in higher per student costs since fixed costs are spread across fewer students.
e) Number of school buildings and size of enrollment: Fixed costs spread over high enrollments will produce lower per student amounts than when spread over lower enrollments. Schools may have unique building configurations, including annexes, distinctive footprints, and elevator services for students with disabilities which would necessitate specific staffing needs, and associated costs, driving additional spending per pupil. Distribution of schools with plant specific costs differs among districts and boroughs.
f) Success in obtaining competitive grants: All other things being equal, a school that is more successful in obtaining grants will have a larger per capita than other schools. The distribution of schools receiving competitive grants differs within districts and boroughs by year.
g) Geographic and programmatic variables affecting transportation costs: The existence of magnet programs or barrier-free buildings that draw students from outside of the neighborhood, or concentrations of physically disabled students that require special busing will increase transportation costs.
h) Special and pilot programs: Programs such as after-school, gifted or inclusion programs in selected schools will result in higher per pupil costs.
i) Pre-K for All: The size and location of Pre-K for All programs (formerly known as “Universal Pre-K”) may either lower or raise the per capita expenditures since pre-k students are funded at a lower class-size, but generally have less special needs than pupils in other instructional levels.
j) Itinerant staff charged to one school location: Where schools share staff, staff may either be split-funded between multiple schools, or they may be charged exclusively to one school location. For instance, speech teacher caseloads change from year-to-year, sometimes resulting in a change in their deployment. In those cases, it may be more efficient to charge such staff to one school, who will be responsible for their payroll and timekeeping.