APS – Admin Cost Story Getting National Attention – APS Excuses Not Holding Up

The Associated Press picked up the story written by Mark Niesse on APS’ bloated administrative costs and it has now gone national. See my comments on the story at the link.

In addition to the quotes included in the prior post from Superintendent Davis and Board Chair McDaniel, there is one more quote that bears examination.

Atlanta Board of Education Chairman Reuben McDaniel said the school district must deal with the expenses of managing so many properties, addressing the needs of students with disabilities and providing services to students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals.

Let’s take what McDaniel said point by point.

“Expenses of managing so many properties – in 2012, a recommendation was made to the BOE to close 15 schools with low enrollment – the BOE chose to close only seven. That means the BOE decided to keep eight administrative teams on staff to run the eight schools with low enrollment.  The reason there are so many properties is because the BOE did not take the necessary actions when the opportunity to do so arose.

“Addressing the needs of students with disabilities” – there is no question that this is a costly function. However the bulk of the cost is for teachers and therapists. When it comes to administrative costs – which is the subject at hand – there are approximately 17 administrators with a cost total cost of approximately $2.0 million. This is not a substantial contributor to the total APS administrative function.

Providing services to students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals” – this one is somewhat ambiguous, and a favorite fallback position I have heard many times. But let’s consider the costs. The children “who qualify for free and reduced meals” often require additional services from counselors and social services. If the cost included in the FY14 budget for these services was cut in half, it would only amount to approximately $150 per student. That only impacts the $1,631 in administrative costs per student by less than 10%.

Are the explanations given by McDaniel part of the problem? The answer is yes, but only a relatively small part. The core of the problem is still an excessive number of administrators in the system.

The BOE is fully aware of the problem and they were absolutely unwilling to address it in any fashion during the recent budget discussions.

One Response to APS – Admin Cost Story Getting National Attention – APS Excuses Not Holding Up

  1. Stan Jester says:

    A 2013 study by Georgia College’s Ben Scafidi, Ph.D., showed how the growth in administrators has far outpaced the growth of students. In Georgia, from 1992-2009, we saw a 41% increase in students but a 74% increase in administrators.

    Do City School Districts Perform Better?
    Nancy Jester published a 2013 CRCT Scores Analysis for the eight Atlanta metro districts in her post Do City School Districts Perform Better?. The answer is ‘Yes, except for APS’. The only thing keeping APS from being the worst performing school district in the metro Atlanta area is DeKalb Schools. So, speaking for the rest of DeKalb, “You’re Welcome.”

    Millage Rates
    I noticed APS is raising the millage rate to 20.64. Looking at the Georgia Counties Millage Rates, out of 158 school districts that puts APS at the 4th highest. Who’s ahead of you … “You’re Welcome.”

    Perverse Incentives
    According to the Ga DOE, school districts have received more and more money per child every year for the last 15 years. Giving more money to a failing system is a perverse incentive. The educational leaders and administrators are the people who benefit the most from the status quo. Traditional public school systems are not motivated to change.

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