Magnet schools use their specialized curricula and prestige to attract pupils from a wide geographical area within large, often urban, school districts. It has long been debated whether magnet schools foster academic excellence and desegregation. The issue of whether these presumed benefits justify the extra personnel, capital, and overhead costs of magnet schools has not received as much attention, mainly because of the lack of valid and reliable cost data. Based on a sample of school districts, this study determined that magnet schools in general cost more than nonmagnets; however, most of these extra costs tended to be fixed. As magnet school enrollments increased, their per pupil costs decreased to a point near and often below per pupil costs at nonmagnets. Finally, the study found that magnet schools with higher costs tended to have higher levels of integration and educational quality than magnet schools with lower costs. © 1989.
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