Small in enrollment but rich in property value, the small beachfront school district of Avalon, Cape May County, is again at the top of the list for per-student spending, according to the 2017 Taxpayers’ Guide to Education Spending released Thursday.
With just 75 students, Avalon is budgeted to spend $48,935 per student this year — more than three times the statewide average of $14,939 spent in 2015-16. The district’s annual cost has dropped over the past two years, down from $57,388 per student in 2014-15, according to the information from the state Department of Education.
On the opposite end of the spending spectrum, charter schools remain the lowest-spending schools per student in the state. Locally, the Vineland Public Charter School in Cumberland County is spending $6,970 per student this year, the third-lowest rate in the state. The Compass Academy Charter School in Vineland is fourth, spending $6,975.
The statewide average budgetary cost of $14,939 in 2015-16 is a 1.4 percent increase from $14,736 for 2014-15.
If pension and benefit costs paid by the state are included, the average cost statewide rises more than $5,000 per student to $20,385, a 3.8 percent increase from the prior year’s average of $19,641.
“The annual spending guide is a tool designed to provide transparency to New Jerseyans about how schools spend their taxpayer dollars to educate students,” said acting Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington.
The guide includes per-student cost breakdowns in categories including classroom costs, textbooks and supplies, extracurricular costs, administrative costs, legal expenses and maintenance. Employee benefits this year make up a third of the total salary cost.
Locally, beachfront towns, which have small year-round school enrollments but high property ratables from second homes, are among the highest spenders.
On the lower end, Ham-monton, Atlantic County, remains the lowest-spending midsized K-12 district in the state, at $11,261. Hammonton school officials hosted state Senate President Stephen Sweeney this year to explain why the district needs more state aid.
The complete report is on the state Department of Education web site.