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Do small high schools cost more than large high schools? That depends on which large high schools you compare them to.

As I noted in my article today, San Diego Unified has estimated that its small high schools cost 16 percent more per student to operate than its larger schools. But small school principals point out that they lack vice principals, which are common at larger high schools.

And as Superintendent Terry Grier allocates more vice principals to high schools, that could shift even more. Here’s a snippet from my June article about the shake-up among principals and vice principals:

Under Grier’s plan to equalize staffing, elementary schools will lose dozens of vice principals next year and high schools will gain them. Wong estimated there would be 19 fewer vice principalships in the coming school year.

Libia Gil, who analyzes the small school project for the American Institutes for Research, called cost analysis “elusive.” That’s the same conclusion as a study by the Center on Reinventing Public Education, which found that small schools weren’t necessarily more expensive in Denver and Seattle.


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