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$30 million more spent on schools here than in Stuart


Even though the Indian River County School District has fewer students than the Martin County School District, it will spend $30 million more than Martin in the current school year.

About 17,000 students attend school in the Indian River District, which expects to spend about $249 million this school year. Martin County School District, with 19,000 students, will run its operation on a budget of $219 million. 

Not surprisingly, Indian River County School District will tax property owners more, at $7.41 per $1,000 of property value compared to Martin County School District’s $6.88 tax rate, a difference of about $250 per year for someone with a $500,000 home.

An analysis of budget figures shows the IRC School District spends more than the Martin County School District because it has higher legal expenses, is more deeply in debt, purchases more from outside the district, lays out far more for healthcare and insurance, and is spending freely on technology and technology personnel. It also spends more on “non-instructional management,” forking out $1.6 million in salary for top administrators, $300,000 more than the larger Martin County District.

Running through the list in order, the Indian River County School Board is embroiled in more legal suits than the Martin County School Board. It will spend $1.6 million on court battles compared to Martin’s $661,000.

Indian River will spend $10 million more on debt service than Martin. Indian River borrows against future revenue, racking up interest costs and fees, while Martin often pays for capital projects in cash.

Despite running its own health insurance fund, supposedly to save money, the school district here will spend $6.4 million on healthcare expenses for current and retired employees in the coming year than Martin.

Indian River County School District also spends more on outside personnel – nearly $24 million last year compared to Martin’s $13 million.

Indian River County School District is spending much more on technology than Martin. It will spend $9.3 million on “instruction related technology” this school year compared to $2.5 million Martin plans to spend. At the same time, Indian River will spend $4 million on “administrative technology services” this school year, while Martin County will spend $662,000.

Meanwhile, Martin spends more on teachers and student support: Last year the district paid nearly $91 million in salaries, over $60 million of which went to teachers and $4.1 million to student support staff, compared to Indian River’s $83 million in salaries of which $55 million went to teachers and $2.7 million to student support staff.

Indian River is especially stingy in spending for teaching assistants who help special-education students and English-language learners, planning to spend this year about half of the $10 million Martin will spend. Indian River has 220 teaching assistants compared to Martin’s 295.