Missouri school spending on administration costs, such as superintendent salaries, is growing more quickly than spending on instruction, according to a report released Monday by state Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office.
From 2011 to 2016, school districts increased their administration spending per student by 14 percent, while spending on instruction increased just 9 percent. The disparity was larger for charter schools, which increased administration spending by 18 percent but decreased instruction spending by 1 percent.
How much a school spends on instruction matters because schools that spent less of their budgets on instruction were less likely to perform well, the report found.
The 35 Missouri school districts that had state annual performance report scores of less than 80 percent, on average, allocated 55.7 percent of their spending on instruction versus 12.4 percent for administration. The 340 Missouri school districts with scores between 90 and 100 percent spent 58 percent on instruction and 12.1 percent on administration.
However, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education argued in a response to Monday’s audit that it would not be appropriate to investigate how per-student spending affects student achievement. The department said several factors influence per-student spending, such as a district’s local wealth and how many special education students are enrolled in a school, because such students require higher costs.
Missouri spends less per student and less on instruction than the national average, according to the auditor’s report.