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Comparative Cost Per Member and Comparative Revenue Per Member

Section D of Multi-Year Edition of Basic Facts

In cooperation with the Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials Accounting Committee, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) School Financial Services Team has developed several revenue and cost "benchmarks" that can be used for informational and general analysis purposes.

Data has been taken from audited Annual Reports submitted to the DPI by local districts. Revenue and cost measures, by themselves, cannot indicate the extent or quality of a particular district's educational program. Users of this data are encouraged to pursue the reasons for revenue and cost differences between districts.


The pupil "membership" data used in the Comparative Revenue and Comparative Cost calculations is based on district resident pupil counts and does not reflect the actual number of pupils (resident and non-resident) in attendance in a district. The pupil "membership" as used here is the average of the full-time equivalency (FTE) of resident pupils on the third Friday in September and the second Friday in January, plus the FTE for summer school, group/foster home, part-time resident and non-resident attendance pupils, statewide choice and Racine pupils (WPCP, RPCP), statewide special needs scholarship program pupils, and New Authorizers Independent Charter School (ICS) students.

Revisions Effective with the 2007-08 Computation

The SFS Team recently revisited the Comparative Revenue and Comparative Cost computations. The reasons were twofold:

  • to ensure WUFAR account additions from recent years were captured within the computations; and
  • to bring these two measures into greater congruity.

In 1999-2000 (when the Comparative Cost computation was last reviewed), it was revised to be a measure that captured cost for resident students, factoring out (to the greatest extent possible) those expenditures made on behalf of non-resident students. It also broke down the cost numbers into three areas:

  • Total Current Education Cost - CEC (Instruction, Pupil/Staff Support, and Operation/Administration/Other Costs)
  • Total Education Cost - TEC (CEC plus Transportation and Facility Costs)
  • Total District Cost - TDC (TEC plus Food and Community Service Costs)

This was done to better align the cost measure with the aid membership statistic used in the Comparative Cost Per-Member computation, as aid membership represents a full-time equivalency for district residents educated in the public schools (see the "Membership" category above). At that time, the Comparative Revenue measure was not reviewed, as most of the attention focused on Comparative Cost.

With the 2007-08 revisions, the Comparative Revenue computation has changed in substantive ways while the Comparative Cost calculation remains largely intact. Changes are outlined below:

Comparative Revenue Changes

  • Now captures revenues for just resident students (creates congruity with Comparative Cost). Further explanation: Just as Comparative Cost cannot exclusively represent resident expenditures, Comparative Revenue cannot exclusively represent resident revenues. For instance, residents and non-resident students alike pay fees and fines; however, the exact revenue split cannot be identified within the confines of our WUFAR system. Assumptions have to be made, and in this case fees and fines were attributed to resident revenue.
  • Now uses the same funds as Comparative Cost (namely, funds 10, 21, 23, 27, 29, 38, 39, 50 and 80).
  • Now reduces district revenues by the revenue transited to other entities. A portion of some revenues received by districts are transited to other entities. For example, if district one pays special education tuition to district two, district two will receive the special education aid and transit a portion back to district one. District two's actual revenue would be the received amount, less the amount transited to district one. This revision includes a netting of revenues by the expense made to transit funds to other entities.
  • Now includes a reconciliation to explain the difference between Comparative Revenue and Total Revenues for the funds included in Comparative Revenue. Users can extrapolate this information to explain changes in fund balance.

Comparative Cost Changes

  • Now includes a netting of expenditures by local revenue received as tuition reimbursement and payment for services from private individuals and agencies.
  • Now includes a netting of expenditures by the Self-Funded Health Benefit Cost Adjustment, the Debt Premium and Accrued interest on Non-Refinancing Debt.
  • Now nets the Transportation Category by Transportation Fees received as reimbursement (previously netted in the "Instruction" category).
  • Now nets Fund 80 revenues by the same types of "non-resident" revenue historically used to net Funds 10 and 20 (primarily, revenue received as cost reimbursement for services provided).
  • Now includes a reconciliation to explain the difference between Comparative Cost and Total Expenditures for the funds included in Comparative Cost. Users can extrapolate this information to explain changes in fund balance.
For questions about this information, contact (608) 267-9114