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A reader wanted to know about my story last night on school closures: How do we know that Cadman Elementary is expensive to run, anyway? Where’d we get the numbers? And can we check them out?

I wanted to see the same information that a school district committee is using to analyze school costs and usage, so I asked Deputy Superintendent Phil Stover for any data the group had used. Stover provided me with this spreadsheet, which compares schools by all different measures, including enrollment, capacity and cost.

One of the most important columns to look at is the last one, “GFU Cost Per Pupil.” That stands for “general fund unrestricted” — how much the school costs per child out of the day-to-day operating fund of the school district. That doesn’t include other money that schools get, such as federal money for disadvantaged students, so keep in mind that this number isn’t the total spending for each school.

I highlighted two of the schools I mentioned in my article in yellow — Cadman Elementary and Mann Middle — to show where they fall when schools are ranked by cost.

You can also check out “percent utilization” (how full the school is compared to its total capacity), “market share” (what percentage of public school children in the neighborhood are going to the school) and “growth API” (the most recent state test scores on a scale from 200 to 1,000). Spot something interesting in all those numbers? Please let me know or air your thoughts here on the blog!

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter:

Emily Alpert

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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