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I’ve been learning all kinds of nifty new ways to show data from my coworker Keegan Kyle. Check out this map of per-pupil spending at San Diego Unified elementary schools.

Here’s the key:

  • Red dots are the lowest per-pupil spending ($4,000 to $4,999 per student).
  • Orange dots are $5,000 to $5,999. 
  • Yellow dots are $6,000 to $6,999. 
  • Green dots are $7,000 to $7,999. 
  • Blue dots are $8,000 to $8,999 and purple is anything higher than that. 

(I ran out of the rainbow and there really aren’t that many schools over that point.) You can click here to check out the full map and get the data for each school.

I’m curious for your thoughts on what the numbers show.

For instance, San Diego Unified is weighing whether to close elementary schools with low enrollment to help cut its costs, since smaller schools cost more to run. But are there other places where we’re spending more — or less — that don’t make sense? Is school spending equitable?

The data was provided by Barbara Flannery, a parent and budget guru who put together a spreadsheet of school spending based on the budget book that San Diego Unified puts out every year. I double-checked her numbers, but Flannery did some serious legwork on this and deserves the kudos for her time.

A few notes of caution about the numbers: Don’t freak out just because schools don’t all get the same funding. Schools may have higher funding because they’re small (so basic costs such as a principal end up being higher per student), because they have more poor students and get more federal funding for disadvantaged students, or because they have unusual needs. Lafayette Elementary, for instance, has programs for deaf students. And these numbers don’t include private donations to schools.

Notice something interesting on the map or in the data? Post your comments on the blog or send me an e-mail. I’ll post more school spending maps soon.

— EMILY ALPERT

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