I live in a town bordered by two of the richest school districts in the country.
24/7 Wall St. used the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from 2006 to 2010 to measure the economic conditions of more than 10,000 unified school districts across the United States. After eliminating the districts with fewer than 10 school-aged children, those that are not unified and those that do not provide a K-12 curriculum, we identified the 10 districts with the highest median income among residents and the 10 with the lowest median income.
Other information was also gathered, including academic performance and education levels of residents. The results are not surprising.
Residents that live in wealthy school districts have among the best schools in the nation based on graduation rates, test scores and independent ratings of academic success. Children who attend these schools are more likely to earn a college degree than the national average.
All ten of the richest school districts except for one are within commuting distance of New York City. Here are the two that are next door to me.
9) Bronxville Union Free School District, N.Y.
> Median household income: $178,465
> Pct. households earning $200,000+: 55.6%
> Pct. households earning less than $10,000: 1.8%
> Expenditure per student: $27,980
> Pct. local funding: 84%
Not only is median household income in Bronxville an impressive $178,465, but over half of all households earn more than $200,000 a year. The average homeowner pays $43,000 in property taxes each year, which the district uses to fund 84% of the school budget. This year, Newsweek ranked Bronxville High School as the fourth-best public high school in the Northeast, due in part to the school’s 100% graduation and college matriculation rates.
1) Scarsdale Union Free School District, N.Y.
> Median household income: $238,000
> Pct. households earning $200,000+: 64.3%
> Pct. households earning less than $10,000: 0%
> Expenditure per student: $26,742
> Pct. local funding: 89%
With a median income of $238,000, the Scarsdale Union Free School District tops 24/7 Wall St.’s list of the wealthiest school districts in the country. In the district, just 35.7% of households earn less $200,000 a year. Because Scarsdale collects an average property tax of approximately $31,000, the district is able to spend a lot on education. Scarsdale provides 89% of funding for its own schools and spends $26,742 per student. The district’s schools are also among the best in the country. About 90% of eighth-grade students at Scarsdale Middle School meet or exceed NYSA’s standards, while in each subsection of the NYSA high school tests at least 90% of Scarsdale High School students had passing grades.
The per student expenditure in our local district is only $23,265. While the ten richest school districts are concentrated in one area, the ten poorest are scattered in rural locations across the county.
Wide discrepancies in the source of school funding
On a national level, nearly half of all property tax revenue goes to public school funding. As a result, most districts rely heavily on local funding. In the richest school districts, up to 90% of the school district budget is from residents’ taxes. Homeowners in these regions pay an average of $18,000 in Weston, Conn. to $43,000 in Bronxville, N.Y. Bronxville’s average property tax bill alone is more than twice the median household income of any of the poorest school districts on this list. By comparison, as little as 6% of school revenue is generated by local taxes in the poorest school districts, with state and federal funding making up the difference.