What is the Average Cost of Textbooks and Supplies for Students in Miami-Dade County, FL?

When it comes to budgeting for their education, students in Miami-Dade County, FL must take into account a variety of expenses, such as books, teaching materials, supplies, and equipment; transportation; miscellaneous personal expenses; and living expenses. But how much do these items cost on average? And how does the cost of textbooks and supplies vary between schools?Data from the state of Florida has already revealed that there is a difference in spending between schools. Other states have also started to release school-by-school spending data, which provides a more comprehensive view of the resources available to each school. This data can have a major impact on the quality of education students receive, as it can affect who gets more experience - teachers, guidance counselors, and social workers - as well as which schools have specialized academic programs, offer advanced courses, and provide appropriate books and supplies.

Research professor at Georgetown University in Washington, DC and director of the university's Edunomics Laboratory, Dr. Roza believes that this new per-pupil data for individual schools could reveal “patterns of fiscal inequity between schools and students in the same district” as well as making it “much easier to investigate (and understand) the relationship between school academic outcomes and school spending.” Julie Rowland Woods, a principal policy analyst at the States Education Commission, also noted that this data is “certainly something that policy makers should pay attention to” and that people who consult the data need “some kind of context” in order to interpret it correctly. The Phoenix was able to observe some patterns and numerous differences in spending per student in schools because the state also provided an extensive spreadsheet with all the amounts per student per school. The Collier district responded Friday to examples of spending per student. The Everglades City School is a small school in a remote location, said Robert Spencer, assistant superintendent of financial services.

Spending per student is high because school costs are distributed among a smaller number of students. The predominantly black school has just over 200 students, all from low incomes, state data shows. The amount of spending per student is partly due to the low-income population: the school receives federal dollars for disadvantaged students, said Alex Rella, assistant superintendent of business services. Money for schools comes from local, state and federal dollars. Roza noted that there are “infinite factors that influence the reasons why certain schools receive more (or less) money per student.” Unlike Metcalfe's high per-student spending, some low-income schools spend little. A school could also have low spending per student because teachers have less experience and receive less money than veteran teachers. In other cases, low-spending schools may have high academic performance.

Those are issues that school boards, administrators, families and taxpayers should examine. Phoenix found that schools had a wide range of numbers per student in each district. And the state also included non-traditional schools in the mix, such as so-called alternative schools for students with behavior or discipline problems. The data also included high numbers per student for home-based programs for healthcare students and special education schools. The state uses a formula for spending per student which includes expenses for instruction, materials and supplies, student support services, school administration, and operation and maintenance among other costs. However, that figure is close to the national figures for spending per student. Now educators, families and taxpayers will be able to go beyond the state average and see how individual schools are doing when it comes to spending per student.

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states for about 30 years focusing on policy and research stories as well as legislative and policy reports. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) classifies any student studying in the United States on a temporary basis as a non-resident alien, and the graduation rate for those students is shown in the following table.

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