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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Emery's Costs Per Student Among Highest in the Bay Area

Emery Unified:  High Cost, Low Performance

$14,713 Per Student

News Analysis
Considering the fact that Emeryville is so robustly growing and its residents are so highly educated (70.5% with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, among the highest averages in the Bay Area), one would think the school district here would likely reflect the high value residents conspicuously place in education. Yet the reality is Emery Unified School District is highly dysfunctional and becoming more so over time; its schools fading, enrollment and test scores dropping, even in the face of a rising city. 

Tracking a slide in test scores and a resultant drop in ranking among Bay Area school districts, the Tattler has shown how Emery Unified School District has suffered from a lack of leadership especially over the last three years.  However not reported in the October 24th story is spending; is Emeryville spending enough to get the results we expect?  The answer is an anomaly; it's not for a lack of money, Emeryville spends more on its school kids per student than all our neighbors do even while the same neighboring school districts far outpace Emery in academic ranking.  
Bay Area school districts generally spend more than the statewide average of $11,176 per student.  A quick look at the numbers is revealing; Oakland Unified spends $13,813 per pupil, Berkeley comes in at $14,367 while Piedmont Unified, one of the State’s highest scoring school districts spends even more at $14,561.  Emery spends $14,713, the third highest in the State of California among districts our size*.  For all Emeryville's spending, our district ranks the second lowest academically in the entire Bay Area.  

Emery is hamstrung over the fact that its small size exacerbates State mandates that each district must meet, making us provide the same minimums as large districts who can spread costs over a larger budget.  This means Emery must pay more for administration as a percentage of its budget than the larger districts.  A look at our neighbor's costs confirms this; both Oakland and Berkeley have 8% admin costs while Piedmont, even though it’s smaller than those two spends 7% of its budget on administration costs, bucking the trend.  Emery’s administrative costs are 13%.   
However, because we've had two successive superintendents binging on hiring more administrators, even when compared with other school districts its size, Emery’s admin costs are still very high.  Only one school district in California, Modoc Joint Unified, comes in higher (16%), but Modoc’s per pupil spending is only $10,200, almost a third less than Emery’s.  Statewide, the administrative average for all school districts is 6%.

Emery: Expensive and Top Heavy
California's small school districts weigh in.  At an average daily attendance of 665, Emery spends almost $15,000 per pupil with an administrative cost percentage of 13%, more than most school districts its size in both categories.
The high cost per student combined with the high administration costs would tend to give credit to those who increasingly argue Emery Unified should merge with Berkeley Unified, the likely increase in student academic performance that move would net notwithstanding.  This possibility of melding with Berkeley Unified is being compared with when the Emeryville Fire Department merged with Alameda County Fire Department several years ago netting Emeryville residents a better service profile for far less money.  Emery’s academic scoring would likely improve and its regrettable costs per student would probably change for the better were such a merging of the two districts take place.
*Numbers are for 2016, the last year reported by the State


  1. You are really going after Emery and their defenders are really going after you. I've noticed each time you do a story about them they attack you. Don't be intimidated Tattler. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks for that. Not to worry; intimidation is not something that stops us at the Tattler.

  2. I just removed my kids from this school, and I agree that everything u have mentioned is very true.

  3. I'd like all-ANY of you-to look up the many studies done at several universities,probably a university YOU'VE attended and proudly, just maybe TOO proudly graduated from, on wether your degree from UC BERKELEY, U OF M,or Yale mean that you're intelligent or can be used to determine the degree of your intelligence.

    The findings......? Your fancy ass degree has NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING to do with how intelligent one is. Besides. We've known for some time that ANY garden variety psycho can be and is often found to be pretty intelligent.

    Many of these garden variety psychos hold no degree of any kind and in many cases have dropped out of of school.

    We simply have garden variety psycho narcissists running the Emery "Unified" School District.