APS – Superintendent Davis Claims 80.9% of Spending in “School House” – Really?

In a recent Budget Committee Meeting, Superintendent Davis claimed that 80.9% of the current Budget Proposal was focused in the “School House” – in other words, the spending was focused on Direct Instruction, Media, Student Services and School Administration. This claim seemed somewhat suspect to me in light of the fact that this past year the Board of Education had authorized Superintendent Davis to request a waiver from the State requirement that 65% of the spending in a school district be directed towards Direct Instruction. With a little bit of digging, the “claim” is even more suspect as shown in the Chart below:

School House Spending 051013

A couple of comments on the Chart above, as follows:

  1. I have used the Budget information as initially adopted by the Board as it represents the intent of the Board for the upcoming year. While “actual” spending would even be better, the information has not been released in a fashion that can be used to prepare this Chart. The method used to calculate the “65% Direct Instruction Test” is very specific and I followed the formula as best I could with the information I had.
  2. Spending on Direct Instruction (based on the Original Budget for each of the years noted) was 60.1%, 62.7% and 61.6% in FY11, FY12 and FY13, respectively.  Each year, APS has been well below the level directed by the State. Given this is the case, why has the System not had to face sanctions?
  3. When we add back to Direct Instruction the other “School House” components (Media Services, Student Services and School Administration), as you can see, the percent of spending increases to 74.5% for FY13. Certainly this is not “80.9%” as claimed. The only way you get to that number is by including the Unfunded Pension liability payments as part of Direct Instruction in the calculation – which is an argument I do not find credible.
  4. It is interesting to note that General Administration has increased from 8.2% in FY11 to 8.8% in FY13.

It is this last point that just keeps showing up time after time. General Administration continues to take a larger and larger portion of the Budget to the detriment of where spending should be focused – in the classroom! Will the Board begin to take steps to begin closing the gap on the Direct Instruction Test in FY14? The FY14 Budget numbers will tell us a lot about the Administration and Board’s priorities.

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