This past week, Mark Niesse at the AJC reported on the massive cost of the Atlanta Public Schools administrators in an article titled “Big share of Atlanta education money never reaches classroom”. In the article, he reports the following statistics:
…. an expensive bureaucracy sprawls across the city, with costs per student that dwarf those in neighboring school districts. …The amount of money Atlanta’s school system dedicates to administration is among the highest in the nation when compared to other major cities …
An analysis of state records … shows that APS spent $831 per student in 2012 on administrator salaries (excluding principals and assistant principals), more than double the $307 per student average of nine other metro Atlanta school districts.
… the Atlanta education system dedicates … more than twice as much in many cases — to administrative salaries per student … in every category, including top-level management, technology services, curriculum and instruction/human resources, clerks, finance and legal personnel.
… APS pays $171 per student for assistant superintendents and department heads compared to metro Atlanta averages of $71 per student, and clerks and secretaries cost $138 per student compared to an average of $62.
… Atlanta Public Schools spent about $1,634 per student on administration — the highest amount in the state.
School district Administrators per 1,000 students: Atlanta – 16.7; Clayton – 8.6; Fayette – 8.6; DeKalb – 7.9; Gwinnett – 7.4; Fulton – 6.5; Cobb – 5.6 …
While I have chronicled the excessive cost of administration, the comparison to other districts in the area is simply stunning – please read the whole thing.
In addition, as noted in the article, the trade-off between administrators and in-classroom spending is on full display.
If Atlanta Public Schools reduced its spending on administrative salaries to the region’s average, it would save enough money each year to hire about 300 more teachers …
Three hundred teachers is the number needed to bring average class sizes down to the level required by GA DOE. But during the extensive debate on the issue, the administration never wavered from its position that lowering average class sizes in the district was financially impossible. As shown by the article, this assessment only bears out if administrators are prioritized over in-classroom spending.
And what is the reaction of the administration? The quote by Superintendent Davis is quite revealing –
“My view is that you need to get the basic infrastructure in place before you start worrying about costs,” Davis said.
This quote encapsulates everything that is wrong about this administration. Infrastructure – read administrators – is more important than education. The “infrastructure” will continue to grow. The cost of administrator’s is not a concern at this time. Cost control is not a priority.
And it’s not just the administration – every member of the BOE who voted for the FY14 budget with a $25 million deficit and no cuts to school administrators are complicit in the fiscal irresponsibility.
… [BOE Chairman] McDaniel said. “I don’t think Atlanta is bloated per se, but I don’t think there’s any organization where you can’t become more efficient.”
And McDaniel’s actions during the recent budget process are telling as well. It was only at the end of the budget process that, speaking on behalf of other BOE members, he requested an additional $1.3 million in cuts. This amount represents a paltry 1% of the total administration budget and the cuts were never included in the final budget approved. In fact, the number of administrators included in the FY14 budget grew by at least 14 positions over the prior year.
Not “bloated”? The article paints a very different picture.