LISD’s cost per student tops $7,000

Leander-ISD1By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News

Leander ISD spent more than $7,000 per student last year, a number that fluctuates each year in the fast-growth district.

With more than 1,000 new students per year enrolling in the LISD, budget planning can often be a challenge.

“It’s always challenging when you’re budget planning in a fast-growth district because you know families are coming in and the need for additional resources such as teachers are going to impact your expenses,” said LISD spokesperson Veronica Sopher.

She said 86 percent of the district’s annual budget goes toward personnel costs.

The district currently spends $7,081 per student, according to LISD Superintendent Bret Champion. Enrollment in the 2013-2014 school year topped 35,000.

Source: Leander ISD

Source: Leander ISD

Champion gave a breakdown of the cost at a presentation to the Cedar Park Chamber of Commerce several months ago.

According to Champion, the largest cost for each student ​—​ $4,296 ​—​ goes toward providing qualified teachers and instructional assistants.

Sopher said on average, the district hires 200 new teachers every year.

Also included in the cost per student is $273 to provide bus transportation, $513 for building cleaning and maintenance, $209 for electricity, heating and cooling, $95 for security and nursing staff, $249 for curriculum development, $82 for library resources, $313 for counseling services such as college preparation, $402 for principal, assistant principals and administrative staff, $392 for district-level staff and $257 for extra-curricular programs.

Factors such as rising utility costs can often impact the cost per student, Sopher said.

“That number changes every year,” she added. “It will never stay the same. One, we’ll have more kids, and two, we’re opening new buildings and hiring new teachers. Utility costs are always changing. It’s not a number that stays the same.”

The newest school in LISD, Reed Elementary, will open next month. The district has also begun construction on high school 6 and elementary 25. Construction costs come out of bond money and not the operating budget.

By comparison, the Round Rock ISD spends $7,289 per student which is slightly more than LISD. As of September 2013, RRISD had 46,530 students enrolled last school year.