Per Capita Education Spending: How Does Tewksbury Compare?

A look at where Tewksbury ranks compared to 24 other communities in Eastern Mass.

As the school year begins, parents will hear about new investments in their local school system or, sometimes, cuts to teachers and budgets.

But how much does Tewksbury spend on education for each person in town—in financial terms, its per capita education spending?

The Pioneer Institute, a Massachusetts public policy research organization, recently released a spreadsheet tool to accompany its new handbook, "Guide to Sound Fiscal Management for Municipalities." The spreadsheet tool allows anyone to compare how much a city or town spends on various services, and how much the city or town spends per capita.

Patch used the tool to compare 25 cities and towns in the area on per capita education spending, with the Pioneer Institute using figures from fiscal years 2009 through 2011 obtained from the state Department of Revenue's Division of Local Services.

In 2011, Tewksbury was slightly above the State Median ($1251) per capita spending on education at $1274.

The town's per capita education spending has remained relatively steady over the past three years. In 2009, Tewksbury's per capita education spending was at $1228. That increased to $1276 in 2010 and then $1274 in 2011.

Note that per capita education spending is not the same as per pupil education spending. The former counts every person in town, while the latter only counts students in the school system.

Do these figures seem right to you? Are you comfortable with Tewksbury's per capita spending being less than neighboring towns like Wilmington, Chelmsford and North Reading? You can review the figures in the table below, and tell us what you think of the results in the comments section at the bottom of this article.

You can also download the Pioneer Institute's spreadsheet tool yourself and create your own comparisons. 

Per Capita Education Spending By City/Town

The data below were obtained from the Mass DOR Division of Local ServicesGeneral Fund Expenditure Worksheets. The spending figures presented below are based on the general funds spent by a municipality on education. General funds cover only a portion of a pupil's education cost, according to the Pioneer Institute, and that portion varies widely among the state's cities and towns. Cities and towns are listed in alphabetical order.

 City/Town              FY09
FY11 State Median 1,296
1,300 1,251
Andover 1,777 1,794 1,850 Arlington 979 985 740 Belmont 1,452 1,393 1,218 Burlington 1,661 1,699 1,772 Cambridge 991 975 1,020 Chelmsford 1,295 1,301 1,359 Lexington 2,131 2,131 2,168 Lynnfield 1,696 1,659 1,687 Malden 893 907 828 Medford 792 778 669 Melrose 1,038 1,011 814 Middleton 1,476 1,564 1,570 North Andover 1,308 1,322 1,318 North Reading 1,393 1,606 1,600 Reading 1,556 1,491 1,484 Saugus 895 948 978 Somerville 611 621 538 Stoneham 1,033 1,050 1,009 Tewksbury 1,228 1,276 1,274 Wakefield 1,081 1,075 1,105 Waltham 997 1,000 1,007 Watertown 968 994 852 Wilmington 1,667 1,592 1,643 Winchester 1,492 1,485 1,569 Woburn 1,221 1,166 1,224
malcolm nichols September 04, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Daniel, why is Melrose so low? Is it a higher density population? Higher over high school age %?
debbie September 04, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Why use a per capita spending formula? If a town has a large population of elderly or older children, doesn't that have a negative impact? I'm curious.
Scott Wilson September 04, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Check out this website....www.pioneerinstitute.org/programs_muniguide....click on the setup page at the bottom and you can compare Tewksbury to any community in MA in many different catergories.
Robert L Homeyer September 04, 2012 at 01:40 PM
These are interesting statistics but offer little information. It is based on population density. Larger families or more people living at one location drive the numbers down. My two recent college graduates still live at home so we still have a household of four. If they move out of town, it would drive the numbers up. Most of the town's revenue is from real estate taxes so this drives the numbers.
Robert L Homeyer September 04, 2012 at 01:50 PM
To give you a comparison figure, the per capita spending on the Library is about 10 cents per day or around $35.00 per year.
billvill September 04, 2012 at 01:53 PM
More meaningful #s would be $ spent/student. per capita #s are skewed toward smaller towns.
Bob September 04, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I hate these stats. There are so many factors involved that these types of numbers usually have zero meaning. I noticed Lawrence and Lowell were not listed. Do these include the students going to Shawsheen from each town? Finally, do they account for the number of students going to private schools? All of these have impact on the true dollar amount spent. Which in the big picture has little affect on the quality of education.
malcolm nichols September 04, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Part of what is interesting is that Arlington & Melrose dropped by 25% & 20% respectively this last year (perhaps not so respectively). Daniel is the coeditor of this article and is from from Melrose. I was looking for the Melrose editor opinion, or their constituency.
Bill Gilman (Editor) September 04, 2012 at 02:25 PM
We will look to try and track down the latest per pupil spending for Tewksbury and the surrounding communities.
Bob September 04, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Here it is for FY '11... http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/state_report/ppx.aspx
Robert L Homeyer September 04, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Hey Bill Gilman - Maybe someone would care to explain the financials on the link Bob provided above. How much does it cost to educate a student and how much are the extras?
Amy September 04, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Why did it go down from 2010 to 2011 as indicated in this statement? What changed in town? "That increased to $1276 in 2010 and then $1274 in 2011." As the parent of a school age child in this town, I would be more interested in seeing the per student spending rather then the per capita spending.
Janellen27 September 04, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Lexington and Tewksbury have about the same area in square miles and have maintained approximately the same population for many years. "Density" is not the only factor here, obviously.
Private Account September 05, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Bill I know you posted it before but when is the community open house for the new high school going to be and what times is it running? Thanks
Bill Gilman (Editor) September 05, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Saturday, Sept. 8, fro 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Private Account September 05, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Thank you!


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