As I noted earlier, the focus on overall remedial education seems to be declining as the spending per student has decreased from $882 in FY09 to $734 in FY13 – a 16.7% decrease over five years. So I looked at the detail to see where spending was being cut within this group of departments and how priorities might be changing. However, as I looked at the detail for the five departments I have included in this group (Early Intervention Program (K-5), Remedial Education (6-12), ESOL/Bilingual, Extended Day, Summer School and Evening School), it appears that there may be an error in the FY13 Budget in the Early Intervention Program (K-5) FY13 Approved Budget.
The table below shows the key numbers for Salaries, Employee Benefits, Average Salaries and Employee Benefits and the number of positions budgeted for in FY12 and FY13.
You can see that the Salaries came down as compared to the FY12 Budget (and Employee Benefits went up – likely a correction of prior budgeting errors). However, while 149 positions were cut in this department in FY13, the average salary and benefits per employee skyrockets to $124,206 in FY13. Either total compensation is overstated or the number of positions is understated (or both). The alternative is that, APS has some very happy staff as their compensation nearly doubled! As this is unlikely, it looks like we have a budgeting error which could be very significant.
How significant? If we use average Salaries from FY12 to estimate the FY13 number, Salaries should be in the $11.3 million range – not $19.3 million. Alternatively, using the FY12 average salary to estimate FY13 positions, it comes out to be approximately 333 positions versus the 195 positions reported – a difference of 138. So in summary, the Budget may be overstated by $8.0 million or the announced position cuts are, in fact, approximately 138 less.
There may be other causes for the discrepancy noted above, but no one at APS has mentioned any other reasons for the substantial changes. Again, we will wait and see.