New tell-all budget document details how much the Denver school district spends on libraries, lawyers, and more (Madison spends nearly double)

Melanie Asmar:

The document, called the Budget Transparency Guidebook, details how the state’s largest school district spends the $10,806 it budgets for each of its 92,600 students. Most of that money – $6,854 per student – goes directly to schools to spend as they see fit.

The rest – $3,952 per student – is spent on services that benefit schools but are budgeted centrally. The document provides a description of each service and what it costs.

It’s a bold move, but perhaps not a surprising one from a district unafraid to experiment with new and controversial ideas, such as giving all district-run schools the flexibility to choose their own curriculum, or encouraging all students to request to attend any school in the district.

The goal, Superintendent Tom Boasberg said, is to be more upfront with taxpayers about how Denver Public Schools spends its money. The district has asked Denver voters three times in the past decade to approve tax increases to benefit schools. Their willingness to do so is one of the reasons Denver can afford to spend about $10,000 per student although the state sends less than that. Colorado ranks nearer to the bottom than the top in the country for education spending.

The citizens budget is now long forgotten.

Madison spends nearly $20,000 per student.