Just before the FY13 Budget was approved by the Board of Education, I sent a brief note to them suggesting that 20-25 positions in the School Administration Department should be cut (Note: School Administration is separate and distinct from APS General Administration). After further analysis of the departments run by the Deputy Superintendent for Instruction – I now know I was way off base!
But before I update the analysis, here is some important context. Since FY09, school enrollment is down 4.6%; the number of teaching positions is down by 397 or 12.0% and the number of schools (as measured by the number of Principals) is down by eight or 8.3%.
In the face of a decline in all the key factors that would establish the baseline for the number of school administrators needed – the following is what we see:
- The FY13 Budget includes 542 School Administration positions – up 74 from FY07 or 15.7%.
- In FY13, the cost per student for school administrators is $1,033 – up from $764 per student in FY09. That is a $269 per student increase or 35.5%.
- In FY07 there was one school administrator for every 7.3 teachers – today that ratio is down to one school administrator for every 5.5 teachers.
And the higher cost of an ever increasingly bloated School Administration Department has been huge. If we simply used the cost per student incurred in FY09 as a baseline, the excess costs spent on school administrators since then amounts to nearly $60 million!
The problem is obvious – too many school administrators in a system that has been downsizing over the last 5 years. But how many is too many? It took a bit of digging, but it appears the school administrator positions started to explode in FY08-09 timeframe. So let’s use FY07 as a baseline to establish how many administrators are needed for the size of the current school system. As noted above, in FY07 there was one administrator for every 7.3 teachers. If the same ratio were applied to the system today, the number of administrators needed would be around 400 – not 534.
So as I noted earlier – I was wrong in my preliminary assessment that 20-25 positions needed to be eliminated from this Department – in fact the number is 130-135! Given the average compensation and benefits for this group, the annual savings would be in the $12-13 million per year range – which would make a huge dent in the projected FY13 deficit.
The questions that APS has to answer are clear. How has the explosion of school administrators improved educational outcomes? Who has benefited from the increase? What improvements were achieved? Unfortunately, no answers are forthcoming – just hazy statements about “good intentions” versus concrete results.
It is now time to make the tough decisions and to bring the School Administration department back into line with the reality of a shrinking system.
Note: In a subsequent post, I will analyze the process that got us to where we are now – and it is not pretty.