APS – Beverly Hall’s Legacy – Four Disasters – 1 Down – 3 to Go

Recently, Superintendent Davis issued his monthly letter in which he indicates APS is nearing an end to removing those involved in the CRTC cheating scandal. He states quite forcefully that:

 “If they are culpable, it is vitally important for these individuals to be off the district payroll and out of APS once and for all. […] My effort from here will be to continue to drive this [ethical behavior] culture change throughout the organization.”

Excellent! It will be good for all when this scandal is finished – and Dr. Davis’ efforts have had a significant impact in putting this behind us.

But the cheating scandal is only one of four disasters created and advanced by Dr. Hall. Her legacy (and any Board of Education members that approved of it) also includes the following disasters that flourish to this day:

  1. In FY06-07 she started a building spree and over $100 million was spent for three new high schools that opened in FY08 and FY09. At the time the new high schools were planned, there was already 15% excess capacity in the high school system – when the new high schools were complete the excess capacity skyrocketed to 35%. APS is still struggling with the issue today and appears to have few, if any, answers to correct the problem. So in addition to the $100 million plus for new buildings that were not needed, every year millions more are spent on maintaining the excess capacity.
  2. In FY08 she started on a “reform program” kick and spent over $40 million on staff and consultants to implement the “reforms”. And what were the results of the millions spent? Take a look at the Report Card prepared each year by APS – if you find any improvements, please let all of us know because I certainly can’t find any. Credit is due to Dr. Davis for winding these reform programs down and quickly. However, the costs of the programs are still with us. As I noted in earlier posts – as the new “one time” costs associated with the reform programs were wound down, instead of being eliminated from spending, they were simply transferred to the School Administration Division budget. So over the course of five years, the number of “administrators” increased dramatically – and at a cost of over $60 million. And this cost lives on today at approximately $12 million per year for extra administrators – a cost that was readily approved by Dr. Davis and the Board of Education – and with no end in sight.
  3. As the spending spree began for buildings and for “reform programs”, clearly it was necessary to add a lot of additional General Administration positions to manage it all. And so they did. In FY07, spending on General Administration was approximately $49 million. By FY10 it had increased to $76 million – a 56% increase in just two years. Since then, General Administration spending has decreased; however, the FY13 Budget of $57.1 million still represents an $8.2 million (nearly 17%) increase over what was being spent in FY07. Again, remember the context – enrollment is down, spending per student for direct instruction is down and teaching positions are down – but the number of General Administrators and corresponding spending is way up. When is the reality of a downsized system going to affect General Administrators? So far, there is no answer.

So we have four disasters created by Beverly Hall and, as I noted above, Superintendent Davis has vigorously addressed one of them. When will the Board of Education and the Superintendent address the next three? If the FY13 Budget is any indication of their intent, the problems certainly will not be addressed in this coming year.

Ethical conduct is absolutely critical and we would expect ethical people to make competent decisions in favor of their primary mission of educating students. I would suggest that the spending splurge that focuses dollars on buildings and administrators instead of on direct student education is neither a competent or an ethical decision. What do you think?

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