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Buffalo among least cost-efficient school systems nationwide, study says

A new study by the financial website WalletHub concludes that the Buffalo Public Schools are among the least cost-efficient in the country.

The website used standardized test scores and per-student spending to calculate a return on investment for each of the nation’s 90 most populated cities.

The authors also factored in four key socioeconomic factors, including poverty rate, median household income, percentage of single-parent households and percentage of students for whom English is not their first language.

The study used each state’s standardized test scores for fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math, which means the authors did not take into account the fact that tests in some states may be more rigorous than those in others.

All five of New York’s largest school systems fell in the bottom 10 of the website’s analysis, with Buffalo ranking 87th. Yonkers ranked 89th, New York City 86th and Syracuse 82nd. Rochester came in last.

Miami-Dade was deemed the nation’s most cost-effective school system. Others in the Top 10 were: Grand Rapids, Mich.; Richmond, Va.; Mobile, Ala.; Tucson, Ariz.; Detroit; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Austin, Texas; Philadelphia; and Birmingham, Ala.

The study reports that public education was the top expenditure for state and local government budgets in 2012, totaling $869.2 billion.

“Although free for students,” the study says, “public education can cost cities big.”