To calculate total spending, we have to add up all sources of funding for education from kindergarten through 12th grade, excluding spending on charter schools and higher education. For the current school year, the local operating budget is $831 million, including relevant expenses such as the teacher retirement fund. The capital budget is $218 million. The District receives about $85.5 million in federal funding. And the D.C. Council contributes an extra $81 million. Divide all that by the 49,422 students enrolled (for the 2007-08 year) and you end up with about $24,600 per child.$24,600 per student buys awful facilities, a bloated central management and the worst scores in the country. Something to remember when filing your taxes next week.
UPDATE: Andrew Coulson, the author of the piece at Cato, has more details on how the numbers break down here and here.