Usually schools in poor communities have less money to spend than their wealthier counterparts, but not in the metro-east. Here, the communities with the highest levels of poverty -- East St. Louis, Madison and Venice -- spend the most per student.
However, more money doesn't guarantee good results, for students or the taxpayers. Students in the poorest districts still lag on state achievement tests. And the districts have a smaller percentage of their total spending going to instruction than in many neighboring districts.
For example, in East St. Louis 48 percent of its $16,650 per student goes to instructional expenditures; the rest goes to operations. In Madison, 54 percent of its $14,356 per student goes to instruction. Venice, which spends an area high $22,856 per student, has just 41 percent go to instruction.
Compare that to Belleville District 118, where 59 percent of its money goes to instruction, the state average. In Granite City, 61 percent of its spending goes to instruction.
A new federal report recommends that states spend more to "address the academic and other needs of low-income students." But in the metro-east, the districts could do that themselves by spending more efficiently.