APS – FY14 General Administration Preliminary Budget – Some Good, Some – Not So Much


APS General Administration includes all the Divisions that operate at a purely centralized and administrative level. They include the Board of Education, Superintendent’s Office, Strategy & Development, Associate Superintendent, Finance, Human Resources, Legal and Information Technology. Below is a Chart that summarizes General Administration budgets by function and includes one, two and three year changes. A more detailed presentation by Department is shown at the bottom of the post.

APS FY14 GA Summary

A review of the information on these functions generates the following questions and comments:

  1. Board of Education – they have trimmed their support staff by one in FY14 and reduced the level of Professional Services – nothing left to cut here.
  2. Superintendent’s Office – The Associate Superintendent has been shifted from his Division to here, however, no change in the Salaries. Not sure why this is the case.
  3. Strategy & Development – As I have noted before, the FY14 Budget increase is a surprise as the major strategic planning effort was completed last year. Over the last three years, staffing has increased from 10 to 15 and the total budget has increased by 40% over the same period. Most of the additions are Project Managers with the likely responsibility of implementing the Strategy. But isn’t this a primary job for the Division Heads? The Strategy group should be cut back to at most $750k, with a savings of over $1 million.
  4. Associate Superintendent – There has been a small reduction in the FY14 budget as compared to FY13. But as I noted above, where is the Associate Superintendents salary reported? It does not appear here nor does it seem to appear in the Superintendent’s Department.
  5. Finance Division – This is the only team that has really taken an ax to the budget. Over the last three years, CFO Burbridge has done an excellent job of reorganizing the team to be more efficient and has reduced cost by over 26%. Well done!
  6. Unemployment Benefits – APS is self-insured and each year has to write a check for the amount determined by the State. With the lay-offs that have occurred during the last couple of years, this number is up.
  7. Legal – This is another budget that does not make sense to me. The major costs of dealing with the CRCT scandal should be behind them as the disciplinary actions are finished and it is now in the hands of the State Prosecutor. Given this, why is their budget up $975k over the last two years? Clearly there is room here for at least a $1 million reduction and, likely more.
  8. Human Resources – In the last couple of months, the Board approved the reorganization of this Division and the addition of 10-12 staff members. As the head or HR is new in the position, he deserves a chance to prove he can make substantial improvements. However, he must clearly demonstrate over the next year that the investment has been worthwhile. Let’s wait and see.
  9. Information Technology – This Division continues to post large year over year decreases in spending. How is this being achieved? The big decreases are in Professional Services, Other Purchases Services and Supplies. Clearly, the major projects requiring outside assistance are winding down. However, there is one anomaly here – Salaries are up 6% even though there is no increase in staffing. How can this be? As in other Divisions, simply reorganize and move people into higher paid job titles! As I have noted before, “shuffling the deck chairs” can work towards their advantage! My recommendation – take away the incentive to do this and mandate a 10% cut in total compensation and save $750k. Then leave it up the Division head to determine if he wants more staff at lower salaries or less staff at higher salaries.

In summary, some good changes have occurred, but there is still a long way to go. Strategy & Development should be cut $1 million, Legal should be cut by at least $1 million and IT by at least $750k, for a total savings of $2.8 million. These savings can then be redirected towards teachers and towards resolving the “class size” issue.

APS FY14 GA Detail

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