Comparable Districts Analysis

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Comparable Districts Analysis 2017-11-13T13:22:19+00:00

Comparable Districts

In 2015-16, the Novato Unified School District (NUSD) and the Novato Federation of Teachers (NFT) agreed to use a new list of seven districts that have similar characteristics for comparison purposes. These unified districts were agreed to because they provide a better comparison for us than Marin County districts because Marin districts generally receive more revenue per student than we do because they are Basic Aid districts. (Basic Aid districts receive their all their property tax revenue because it exceeds the designated Local Control Funding Formula level.)

The chart below shows General Fund Revenue Per Student for Marin County school districts. NUSD has one of the lowest revenues per student in Marin County.  For example, in 2015-16 NUSD received $11,250 per student compared to Tamalpais School District’s revenue of $18,486.

Bar Chart comparing school districts in Marin County with the General Fund Revenue Per Student in the school year 2015-16. Novato Unified School District ranked second least in generating funds per student at $11,259.49, see link for accessible copy.

The seven comparable districts are listed below and contain the following similar characteristics:

  • District Type = Unified and not basic aid
  • Enrollment =  5,655 to 10,501 Students
  • Free or Reduced Lunch count, English Learner, Homeless & Foster Youth = 30.32%-41.69%
  • Cost of Living Factor = 152-228
  • General Funding Per Student = $5,266-$7,598
District Type-Unified,
Non-Basic Aid
EnrollmentFree/Red. Lunch
Eng. Learner
Homeless &
Foster Youth
Sperlings Cost of
Living 3/15/2016
Current Exp of
Educ per ADA
(Ed Code 41372)
Gen Fund Rev bby
Object Code –
8010-8099 Rev Limit
Per Student
Bonita Unified10,14635.70%174$8,086$6,463
Brea-Olinda Unified5,97731.90%182$7,343$6,382
Claremont Unified7,04641.00%171$8,350$6,553
Culver City Unified6,75743.10%208$8,744$6,634
Glendora Unified7,73331.70%160$7,514$6,327
Moorpark Unified6,70337.40%175$8,569$6,721
Morgan Hill Unified9,00043.90%198$7,349$6,630
Average (without NUSD)7,62337.81%181$7,994$6,530
Novato Unified8,02939.20%190$8,557$6,582
NUSD % of comparables105.32%103.66%104.89%107.05%100.80%

Source: Sperling’s Cost of Living,  Other data,

School Size Comparison

One important note about our comparables is that these districts have much larger schools than NUSD. At the elementary level, their schools are 108 students larger on average, 180 students larger at middle school, and 658 students larger at high school. More schools for NUSD means NUSD has more school administrators.   See table for school comparison sizes.

Class Size Comparison

Another difference is that NUSD has significantly smaller class sizes than our comparables. On average, NUSD’s classes are two students smaller. This  increases our teacher cost per pupil.  For example, NUSD’s Teacher Cost per Pupil is $361 more than our comparable districts.  When $361 is multiplied by 7,500 students that equals about $2.7 million. To the left are tables of comparison class sizes and related teacher cost per pupil.

Recent Novato Unified Teacher Pay and Benefit Increases

Over the last two years, NUSD has invested in attracting and retaining employees by committing to significant increases in compensation for all employees.  This table captures teacher salary increases over the past two years.

Note:  This increase is in addition to the regular step and column increase that teachers receive each year on the salary schedule, which is about a 1.5% average increase.

Recent Novato Unified Teacher Pay and Benefit Increases

Table Showing how Pay Rate Increases impact the Gap between NUSD teachers and comp districts, accessible pdf at url

Source: District Salary Schedules

There is a gap of approximately 4% for teachers at the beginning of their careers with NUSD and a little more than 2% at the end of teachers’ careers compared with our comparable school districts. It is the District’s goal to continue to narrow this gap (the gap was narrowed by 1.86% in 2015-2016 and 1.14% in 2016-2017.) We acknowledge this is an important issue and we are committed to continue progress to better compete with our comparable districts.

Superintendent Salaries

When compared to the comparable districts, NUSD’s superintendent’s salary is on the low side making about 93% of our comparables, or about $17,000 less than the other superintendents.

A table showing the salary of the NUSD superintendent compared to other comparable districts superintendents salary, accessible version available at url

Source: District Superintendent Contracts

Administrative Comparables

In reviewing the number of administrators in NUSD over the past nine years, it seems that we have been fairly consistent in having between 30-36 certificated administrators depending on fluctuations in state revenues.  We have 21 site administrators (principals and assistant principals), and the rest are district administrators from Superintendent to Coordinators.  This has ranged from a total of 35 in 2009-10 to 30 in 2012-13 to 34 last year (2016-17).  In looking at our comparable districts, NUSD has more administrators than our similar districts.  As mentioned previously, some of this is due to the fact that our comparables have larger school sizes and have five or six fewer principals and assistant principals.  The size of the schools is not the only factor and we will be reviewing all district office administrative positions over the coming year.  Below is a comparison of NUSD certificated administrators to our comparable districts and a link showing specific certificated and classified administrative positions for the past three years.

A table showing how NUSD compares to seven comparable districts on a variety of statistics, see link for accessible copy

Source: 2013/14 and 2014/15,  2017/18 District Websites

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