A nonprofit group has put up a billboard across the street from headquarters for Minneapolis Public Schools, calling out what it says is the district's high spending.
"Minneapolis Public Schools spends $525,000 per classroom of 25 students … per year," the billboard reads.
Better Ed, a nonprofit organization, paid for the billboard. The organization is run by Devin Foley, former development director at the Center of the American Experiment, an advocate for school voucher programs. Better Ed also has called for dismantling the Minneapolis School District.
The Chaska-based organization calculated the district's spending at $21,000 per student each year.
According to the Minnesota Department of Education, Minneapolis received $14,131 per student in 2014. The statewide average is $11,011 per pupil. St. Paul received $14,302 per student, a little more than Minneapolis.
Department of Education spokesman Josh Collins called the organization's calculations "misleading."
In a news release, Foley said the billboard is timely. He said it comes in the wake of Star Tribune reports that revealed a $1 million no-bid contract with a Memphis IT company and another that highlighted that fewer than half of employees with district credit cards turn in receipts.
"We hope this billboard shows that more spending is not the answer to Minneapolis' educational problems," said Daniel Lattier, Better Ed's vice president. "Rather, the district needs systemic reform."
Spokesman Stan Alleyne said his school district is focused on meeting its academic needs and allocating more of its resources directly to the schools.
"We also understand the issues that we are facing, but we are optimistic about our direction and our plan and our strategic plan," Alleyne said. "We are not focused on our critics."
The nonprofit has bought billboard space and mailed glossy fliers in the past criticizing the district's graduation rates and academic performance.