The Real Cost of Public Education

School Funding

THERE’S A REASON teachers are adamant about attendance beyond missed educational opportunities — empty desks equal dollars lost. ADA (average daily attendance), which is different from enrollment, is a key number that determines how much money districts get from the state. ADA is calculated by dividing the sum of attendance by days of instruction, which means if a student misses nine days during the 180-day school year, the district loses 5 percent of the money a student with perfect attendance would deliver. That makes attendance especially important for about half of the Marin County districts that are state-, not tax–, funded. State-funded districts receive the bare minimum amount of money and must still cover teacher salaries, operational costs and so on. Why the discrepancy? It has to do with taxes. Funding relies heavily on local property taxes, which differ from district to district. School districts in areas with plenty of tax revenues, like Sausalito and Bolinas-Stinson, get to keep the surplus tax money, while state funded districts like Novato and Ross Valley have to be more prudent in regard to supplied funds.


» Teacher Salaries: $8,034
» Instruction-Related Services: $1,531
» Facilities: $1,281
» General Administration, Ancillary Costs, Transfer-Outs: $1,262
» Pupil Services: $916
» Other: $293

*Based on ADA (average daily attendance), 2015-2016

This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s September 2016 print edition under the headline: “Educating Ricky.” 

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