The Fiscal Impact of School Choice Programs
The pro-voucher Friedman Foundation recently released a study demonstrating that school choice programs have saved school districts and taxpayers $444 million from 1990 to 2006. Click here to see the report.
Dr. Susan Aud, who prepared the study, wrote "to keep our analysis conservative, we have not only excluded from our analysis all reductions in cost outside the category of current expenditures, but we have excluded all reductions in current expenditure costs other than instructional costs." In other words, when calculating savings, the study does not include capital and debt service costs and non-instructional operating costs such as administration, transportation, and facility maintenance.
Aud also wrote "[w]e make this conservative assumption to ensure that our analysis takes into account the widespread complaints brought by school choice opponents about fixed costs." This is a very conservative approach, especially from a Utah perspective, since Utah's school enrollment is rapidly increasing and nearly all educational costs -- except for district administration and possible some others -- are clearly variable. Even in areas where enrollment is not growing, costs are variable in the long run due to the possibility of consolidating schools.
Friedman's study accounts for the costs of providing vouchers to students who were attending or would have been attending private schools even without vouchers.
If Friedman says that vouchers save money, why did the Legislative Fiscal Analyst say vouchers would cost money in Utah?
When preparing the fiscal note, the fiscal analyst did not even include any savings due to students leaving public schools for private schools due to vouchers, even though he admitted that there clearly would be savings.