I have consistently argued that the expansion of charter schools in Atlanta is a benefit to all relevant constituencies – students, parents and taxpayers. You will note that I have left school administrators off the list of relevant constituencies.
Why? Because the only group hurt by the expansion of charter schools are APS administrators. As more students and parents select charters as their schools of choice, fewer APS administrators are needed – and that is a threat to the administrator’s existence that must be fought at all costs.
Let’s look at the following examples that support my contention that administrators will continue to perpetuate themselves at the cost of having fewer teachers in the classroom, higher cost of delivering education and ongoing deficit spending.
- Since FY09, student enrollment has declined from 49.2 thousand to 43.6 thousand students – a decrease of over 11%. During that same period, total School Administrators (not to be confused with General Administration) have increased from 524 to 557 – an increase of 33 or 6%.
- Comparing FY13 with the FY14 Budget, the amount spent on In-School Administrators has come down by $1.3 million, but the cost of centrally located School Administrators has gone up by the same amount.
- The FY14 Budget will run a deficit of $26.6 million – Superintendent Davis was asked to provide an additional $1.3 million reduction in cost – this was not seriously discussed in open session and the cuts were not included in the budget approved.
- Superintendent Davis consistently says that he is “building the necessary infrastructure” – in other words, he intends to expand administrative functions – not reduce them in a manner consistent with enrollment.
- During the recent budget process, parents pleaded for smaller class sizes and a reallocation of resources to where it matters – in the classroom. The response was minimal – and the waiver on average class sizes (+5) will remain in place.
Charter schools are a threat to administrators. As parents choose a charter school for their children, the enrollment administered by APS declines and fewer APS administrators are needed. This is the case as charter schools essentially pay for much of their own administrative costs – and APS and the taxpayers are relieved of this burden.
But, in the face of continuing declines in enrollment, the administration increases in size. The APS administrators are self-perpetuating at all costs – student outcome does not matter, parent’s choice does no matter and the cost does not matter.
The record is uncontested – administrators first. Everyone else – including students, parents and taxpayers – be damned!