Students Educational Expense

Financial management in Paterson School District is one of the fundamental aspects that the district needs to be thoroughly knowledgeable about. This begins by establishing the actual instructional expense (AIE) for the seven categories of students within the district. The elementary, secondary, vocational-technical, charter, cyber, special education, and out-of-district placement student categories require different instructional expenses and this difference is also observed in different districts even those from the same county. There is need to calculate the AIE and reported at the end of each successive school year. School administrators in the district need to determine accordingly so as to draw a budget for the students’ instructions.

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Section 2501 of the Public School Code of 1949 (2012) requires that Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) should use the data from the Annual Financial Report submitted each year by all district public schools to calculate and report the AIE amounts for each district. This involves the addition of expenses such as general education fee, administration, maintenance and total of selected expenses. The main of this paper is to outline and compare the AIE for the categories of students for two neighboring school Paterson School District and West Chester Area School District (WCASD).

Paterson School District

In Paterson School District the AIE per student in District dollars is $6,257 which translates to $25,558,128 total district dollars. This expense covers which cover food services, attendance record keeping and physical and mental health (Rising Sun Elementary School, n.d). For high school students, the total instructional expenditure in Paterson School District is $26,060,000 while the AIE per student is $9,780. The AIE of vocational students is $12.498 and hence higher than that of secondary students by $2,718 (R. Fazio, personal communication, April 8, 2013).

The AIE of the special education students is adjusted to the base cost so as to reflect the added cost as a result of additional special needs of the students. The additional costs are averagely approximated to be $ 8,762. This cost is added to the normal AIE of normal students at the same level of learning and may give a value ranging from $ 19,550 to $23,200 and hence slightly lower than the value in WCASD (Report on the Cost of Education, n.d.). Lastly, the AIE amounts for out-of-district placements can vary just as in the case of special education. The district paid $26,898 on average for each regular education student and $31,134 for each special education student in an alternative education placement. This depends on the placement location of the student and the services they may receive.

West Chester Area School District (WCASD)

An elementary student will require an AIE of an elementary student required $10,738 as the AIE in the 2010-2011 school year and hence slightly higher than that in Paterson. For a high school student, the AIE is calculated to be $11,335 and thus higher than the AIE of an elementary students in both Paterson and WCASD as well as the high school students of Paterson. In 2010-2011, the AIE for each vocational-technical student from WCASD was $19,568. In Chester County, all vocational-technical students attend the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) (S. Moore, personal communication, April 5, 2013). Charter and cyber students had the same cost of AIE approximated to be $8,664 (R. Fazio, personal communication, April 8, 2013).

Lastly, the AIE for special education students is rated according to the extent of assistance and services needed by the student. The cases of the disabled students are not the same and therefore there is a variation on the AIE for each special education student. In the 2010-2011 school year, on average, the district provided $ 21,385 per special education student if the student is educated within the district. The AIE of special education student is the most expensive and complex to calculate due to the complexity of the requirements for learning and sustenance of the students’ needs. AIE amounts for out-of-district placements can vary, depending upon where the students are placed and the services they receive.

The two districts portray some slight differences on the AIE costs where that of WCASD are slightly higher than those of Paterson School District. The main cause of the differences is the variances in the districts’ demographics, which ultimately affect districts’ revenue and expenditures. Out of the 11,780 students enrolled in WCASD in the 2010-2011 school year, 4.6% were reported to be living at poverty level and 8.5% were enrolled in free and reduced lunch.  Due to these percentages, WCASD received $566,865 in federal school meal funding as well as $531,959 in Title 1 funds (New America Foundation [NAF], 2010b).

Paterson, on the contrary, had 11,823 students enrolled, yet only 3.4% were at poverty level and 4.85% were enrolled in free and reduced lunch program. The percentages enabled Paterson School District to received $388,857 in federal school meal funding as well as $308,896 in Title 1 funds (NAF, 2010a). It however received less federal revenue due to lower percentages of students at poverty level despite having slightly higher enrollment of students than that of WCASD. This led to a reduction in the overall budget for allotment to cover student instructional expenses.

The two districts were similar in some aspect such as the similarity of each vocational student due to the districts belonging to the same country. The AIE the AIE for each special education student and out-of-district placement student varied greatly in both districts, as these expenses can change with each student, depending upon the needs and services provided. For both districts, the amount paid for a special education student’s alternative placement, the cost of average more than the students in the regular education program.


Knowledge and keeping record of the actual instructional expense for each type of student within a district by school administrators is very essential since it is a fundamental requirement before a strategic budget is prepared. The AIE varies most often as a result in the fluctuations revues and expenditure even they are in the same country. Paterson School District, has slightly lower AIE than, WCASD for each type of students but WCASD  received a greater amount of the federal fund than Paterson School District because of the West Chester’s student population demographics.

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