The Money Myth


The Money Myth is the belief that the RSD in New Orleans receives significantly more public money to educate its students than other districts do.  Not true.


Jack Loup, president of the St. Tammany Parish School Board, said State Superintendent Pastorek directs about $13,000 per student to RSD schools in New Orleans, compared to $5,900 per student in the St. Tammany school system.


New Orleans RSD schools receive less state funding per pupil than St. Tammany Parish schools. New Orleans RSD direct-run schools receive $4,342 per pupil. St. Tammany schools receive $5,289.


New Orleans RSD schools receive less state funding per pupil than the state average. New Orleans RSD direct-run schools receive $4,342 per pupil. The state average is $4,999.


Don Whittinghill, LSBA consultant, said, “The Recovery School District has been spending at least 30 percent more per student than the average locally-run school system in Louisiana.”


Combining state and local funds, RSD New Orleans is below the state average. RSD New Orleans direct-run schools receive $8,904. RSD New Orleans charters receive $8,504, and the state average is $8,908.


The RSD is above the state average because it receives more federal funds, due to its large percentage of poor students (more than 20 percentage points above the state average). Federal funds are either competitively awarded (TAP, Safe Schools, etc.) or are allocated according to federal formulas, most of which consider the percentage of poor (Title One) and special needs (IDEA) students. RSD direct-run receive 12% more than the state average; RSD charter schools receive 7% more.

How do we know?

Educate Now! analyzed the the revenue numbers from the 2009-10 school year, the last year for which we have complete information. These numbers have all been verified by the Louisiana Department of Education. The chart below is an “apples to apples comparison” of local, state and federal funds, excluding debt, capital and FEMA funds.


Revenue by Source RSD N.O.
State Revenue
MFP $3,2802 $3,7982 $5047 $4,731
Other State $226 $1,294 $242 $268
Total State Revenue $3,506 $5,092 $5,289 $4,999
Properly allocating state revenue to all RSD N.O. students3 $477 ($750)
Total Adjusted State Revenues $3,983 $4,342 $5,289 $4,999
Total Local Revenue
(sales tax, property tax, donations, E-Rate, etc.; excludes debt and capital)
$4,521 $4,562 $4,285 $3,909
Total State and Local Revenue $8,504 $8,904 $9,574 $8,908
Total Federal Funds
(title funds, PCSP-charter start up funds; excludes FEMA)
$2,684 $2,865 $1,181 $1,584
Percentage of Free/Reduced Lunch Students 90.5% 87.5% 44.8% 65.7%
(State, Local and Federal)
$11,188 $11,769 $10,755 $10,492


Why the confusion?

RSD New Orleans serves two purposes. It was charged with both turning around failing schools AND rebuilding a school infrastructure devastated by the levee failures.

In the years immediately after Katrina, RSD New Orleans did receive extra money – as did all of the hurricane impacted districts – from federal Restart and HEAP funds. Those monies were spent on desks, textbooks and other rebuilding efforts prior to the 2009-10 school year.

RSD New Orleans also receives FEMA money toward the rebuilding of school facilities. These funds are not included, as this analysis looks at operating funds and excludes debt, capital and FEMA funds.



1Charter numbers are an average of all funds received by all RSD N.O. charters. Individual school revenues will vary based on several factors, including the percent of poor students, the percent of students with disabilities, individual fundraising efforts, etc.

2In the Recovery School District, the money follows the student, and students with disabilities receive more funding than students without disabilities. RSD direct-run schools received more state MFP funds because they served more students with disabilities than did the RSD charters (12.4% vs. 8.7%).

3RSD New Orleans is responsible for the school facilities for both its direct-run and charter schools, so it receives income from the state for both. To get an accurate per pupil amount for “Other State” funding, this revenue needs to be allocated to all RSD New Orleans students – both direct-run and charter schools. This adjustment reduces the RSD direct-run “Other State” per pupil funding by $750 and increases the RSD charter per pupil by $477.