APS Human Resources in the News – Not Favorable & Not Due to Lack of Resources

Yesterday there was an article in the Reporter Newspapers by Dan Wisenhut with the following lead:

Parents at North Atlanta High School are calling for more transparency after Atlanta Public Schools efforts to hire a new principal raised questions and concerns.

This is an excellent time to look at the Human Resources FY13 Approved Budget. Below is the financial and staffing information for the five departments that make up the Chief Human Resources Officer’s Division. The points of interest are highlighted in yellow and discussed below. Overall, spending for Human Resources has decreased by $128k or 2.6%. This sounds good until you compare it to what is happening with the total personnel that is employed by APS. The FY13 Approved Budget indicates that 352 positions are being terminated – this is a decrease in total staff of nearly 7%. You would think that spending and staffing for the HR function would decrease in a manner consistent with the overall APS staffing trend – why is this not the case? If it did, this would result in a savings of $220k – not a huge amount, but when resources are scarce, hundreds of thousands of dollars count!

If we look deeper at Personnel Services Department (the department that hires personnel for the system), as can be seen in the table below, spending and staffing in this Department has remained relatively flat for the last five years and had a slight decrease in spending for FY13. However, when we look at the detailed spending activity for this department on a stand-alone basis, below is what we see.Salaries did come down, but Employee Benefits went up by a similar amount. As the staffing level actually increased by one position, why did Salaries come down? Did some staff take a cut in pay? Or is this simply an indication that prior year budgets were a bit off. The same holds true for Employee Benefits, and since actual spending for FY10 and FY11 are not provided, it is difficult to understand what is really happening. However, we do know that Personnel Services is not following the overall APS staffing and spending trend – and by a significant amount.

Also, I will make a quick comment on the Internal Resolution Department spending. This is the Department that is described as handling employee investigations and has had six staff positions since FY08. Why have the positions been cut in half to three? And why are the Salaries not coming down to a level consistent with the number of positions? If we use the same average salary per position incurred in FY12, then there may be a nearly $190k overstatement of the FY13 Approved Budget (plus Employee Benefits).

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