I just got some more information about why the cost of running small schools — those with fewer than 400 students — seems to have jumped since 2004. (Check out our last post about this question here.)

Back then San Diego Unified was quoting savings of between $273,000 and $360,000 to shutter small schools and send their students and staffers to other nearby schools. The school district saves money on administration, clerical staff, landscaping and utilities. Today the estimate falls between $450,000 and $500,000 depending on the school.

Chief Logistics Officer Bill Kowba and Budget Operations Director Gamy Rayburn did some research and chalk up the cost increase to inflation. They concluded that the increase is due to a 14 percent boost in administrative salaries, a 22 percent increase in utility costs, and a 9 percent increase in clerical costs over the past four years. No small potatoes.

That still seemed a little low to me — especially since it looks like a 25 percent boost overall in the estimated savings since 2004. I asked if the formula used to calculate the closure savings is the same that was used back then.

Kowba and Rayburn weren’t sure. I left a message with Scott Patterson, the former chief financial officer who now works in Grossmont Union High School District, to get more info. Check back soon for more.

EMILY ALPERT

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