The September 2008 Boston magazine has a cover story on high school education in the Boston area. Cambridge is #1.. in cost, having spent $24,467 per year per student. That’s up from $20,637 in 2005. SAT scores, meanwhile, have fallen from 481 verbal/500 math to 465/468, well below the nationwide average for 2007 of 502/515. Cambridge has the lowest student-teacher ratio of any school in the state and the most non-teacher staff (100 administrators for the 1541 students).
Brookline is right across the river and has a similar proximity to Boston and density of housing. They spent $15,098 per student and the average SAT scores were 571/587.
Lincoln-Sudbury, right near Hanscom Field, proves that Gulfstream exhaust is good for learning. They spent $14,500 per student and the SAT scores were 573/600. MCAS scores were excellent as well.
A separate article in the same magazine covers the new high school building in Newton, Massachusetts. The old school building had a flakey HVAC system. To rectify the problem, the town hired Graham Gund, a prestige architecture firm, and the result is throwing out the old building in favor of the most expensive public school project in the United States. By the time it opens in 2010 it will have cost more than $200 million. The Harvard design school graduates at Graham Gund apparently did not read the Massachusetts school guidelines and therefore the classrooms are going to be slightly smaller than the regulatory minimum. Newton taxpayers are going to be paying for this for the next 30 years via bonds that start out with very small payments but balloon to $10 million/year starting a few years hence (just like a subprime mortgage!).