Thursday, October 08, 2009

Central Administration:Meg Diaz' Report

Read this. This is a report prepared by parent Meg Diaz using district data on central office spending. It's an amazing effort on Meg's part and she gave it to Board members last night as well as spoke at the Board meeting.

Where can we find more money (even as the actual building is an financial albatross around our district's neck)? In the headquarters of SPS.

43 comments:

Andrew said...

Meg Diaz Rocks!

Megan Mc said...

Wow. Truly amazing work.

Maybe we could take up a collection to hire Meg to do something similar with the levy information.

This is information the general public can quickly make sense of. I hope it gets the exposure it deserves.

owlhouse said...

Meg is our modern folk hero. Thanks for the time and resource, Meg.

Now, what to do with the numbers. I'd like to think the board would take a look and get to work, but, eh, my optimism seems to be missing.

Stu said...

Meg Diaz Rocks!

I couldn't agree more. I remember her presentation during the APP split and honestly thought that she had single-handedly stopped the whole thing. Until I realized, of course, that none of the changes were based on any real facts or figures.

stu

gavroche said...

Once again, excellent work, Meg. This is truly disgusting. Where's the local media on this one? Where's the national media? We need to get this info to them.

Who ARE all these people raking it in at the John Stanford Center?
(http://www.seattleschools.org/area/m_aboutus/contactsbyperson.xml)

What exactly do they do for our kids? (-- Other than suck up valuable resources that could be better used in the classrooms, that is.)

How can SPS possibly think it can make a case for more levy funds? Meg should be running SPS.

h2o girl said...

Can we write in Meg for School Board?

gavroche said...

Blogger h2o girl said...

Can we write in Meg for School Board?


Yes we can. I think she is in either Bass or Chow's district.

dan dempsey said...

From OSPI annual expenditure for central office...

Olympia SD = $530
Seattle = $991

Difference is $461 per student
x 46,000 students = $21,200,000

Keep in mind it takes a lot of central office math coaches to attempt to make a k-12 math curriculum this pathetic work ....

not to mention all the other functions that are necessary when the (Kremlin's five year plan) strategic plan is selectively applied.

I wonder why with the excess $20,000,000 the Central office missed the quarterly strategic plan update? Guess that was a cost cutting measure.

Meg's PowerPoint is fabulous ... I doubt the directors will notice.

old salt said...

This is really great work, very well presented.

Can this blog (as media) ask for official response from each board member about this?

Can it be given to candidates & candidates be asked questions about it at the forum on Monday?

When I think about the deteriorating buildings & failing students who should be benefiting from this money, it makes me furious.

wseadawg said...

Excellent piece, from someone who really cares, as opposed to the rubber stampers on the board.

Now watch and listen for the "whisper campaign" to discredit Meg while continuing to bury their heads in the sand and be full-time apologists for MGJ & Co.

wseadawg said...

Old Salt: I predict the Board's official response will be something like "we know some things you don't." That's always been DeBell's approach whenever confronted with uncomfortable facts. Most of them will default to the position that there must be some reasonable, honorable explanation, because their buddies at SPS are really nice, hard-workign people.

Remember how often DeBell and the board thanked staff for all their hard work last year, as they shredded communities left and right?

TechyMom said...

I posted this on the cost of mistakes topic, but it also belongs here... What do you think?

What about an initiative? Would it work to create an initiative, separate from the levy, that requires the recommended % of the budget be spent on maintenance? (was it 2% or 4%?). Maybe add a premium to take care of some of the deferred maintenance? Would it be legal? What about requiring in that initiative the reduction of coaches and central admin staff by a significant amount (30-40%), enough to bring it in line with Tacoma or Anchorage, to pay for the new maintenance budget? Any lawyers out there?

An initiative could even specify the central admin dollars per student spending, and limit it's growth to the rate if inflation.

Meg's charts may not impress the board, but I bet they'd impress voters.

emeraldkity said...

Remember how often DeBell and the board thanked staff for all their hard work last year, as they shredded communities left and right?

Oh yes- but it was probably prompted by something similar to what I witnessed at a meeting for special education parents and teachers by the district admin, when they practically sobbed that they " were trying" and that they didn't like criticism so we should be nice to them.
Give me a break.
How many jobs could you mess up and then whinge that you meant well? ( and then get promoted?)

ArchStanton said...

Can we write in Meg for School Board? Yes we can. I think she is in either Bass or Chow's district.

Neat idea. But, I wouldn't wish that on Meg (or anyone), unless she (or they) express an interest.

What about an initiative?

If it it's a legal option available to us, that could be one of the most productive ideas I've heard.

Dorothy said...

The fact that the central staffing is excessive is nothing new. The new thing to me was Meg's exposing the differences in reporting budgetary expenses, hiding from the public and board the true cost of downtown. What amazing gall.

For more historical data, see this summary article of a paper comparing site-based management and district efficiencies and success. (Once I knew a link to the full article, but I couldn't find it today.) The highlighting is mine.

"Weighted-student-formula budgeting was invented through trial and error by Edmonton superintendent Mike Strembitsky, beginning in 1973. The system attaches funds to individual students, rather than to schools or school districts, and then allows students to choose any public school in the district, with neighborhood students' having preference at each school.
[...]
When John Stanford, a retired army general, became superintendent of the Seattle schools in 1995, he traveled to Edmonton with his chief financial officer, Joseph Olchefske. (Olchefske later took over as superintendent when Stanford passed away and recently announced his intention to resign in the wake of a surprise budgetary shortfall.) They brought Strembitsky's budgeting system to Seattle and implemented it the next year.
[...]
[Of districts with site-based management] In the public districts, Seattle is an outlier, with a relatively large central staff. This may be the result of the dramatic decline in enrollments in Seattle after the onset of forced busing, during which enrollment dropped from nearly 100,000 in 1970 to only 39,000 in 1990. The district has yet to downsize its central staff to match that decline in enrollments. As a result, Seattle spent $9,700 per pupil in 2000-01 (excluding debt service and capital expenses). Meanwhile, Edmonton and Houston spent just $5,800 (Canadian) and $5,600, respectively, per pupil."

Charlie Mas said...

If the local media ran with the story, I think the headline would be something likes this:

"These are the best teachers in Seattle Public Schools, but they will never teach your child"

If these coaches are the best teachers then they should be assigned to the lowest performing schools and they should be teaching students. We can pay them a stipend to mentor the other teachers in addition to their regular teaching duties.

dan dempsey said...

Please check these numbers for validity as the overall result is staggering in a district that just RIFed teachers and closed schools....

Check this out Clover Park School District spends $1072 per kid on Central Administration ...

Perhaps Seattle at $991 can compare with CPSD and talk about the tremendous SPS savings thanks to the efficient operation at the JSCEE. Has the auditor visited CPSD lately?

Neighboring districts of CPSD in Pierce county are
Tacoma = $646
Bethel = $685
Franklin Pierce = $643
Steilacoom = $517

and adjoining CPSD in
Thurston County
North Thurston = $557

In case you are wondering about RIFed teachers if I use $90,000 for salary and benefits per teacher (which I believe is high for those RIFed)

$20,000,000 / $90,000 =
2000/9 = 2,200 teachers

which would increase teaching force from around 7,300 to 9,500 if the money was applied to teachers instead of central administration. Granted these teachers would need classrooms etc. BUT my point is there should have been no RIFs.

Clearly MG-J and the board believe that Class Size is unimportant. Many districts RIFed no teachers and were spending way less than 9% on Central Admin. Remember all the talk about cutting back at central office and only specific grant funded instructional coaches will remain. Is the Central Office the beneficiary of around $20,000,000 in annual grants that just cannot be spent elsewhere?

Speaking of accountability where are the accompanying academic gains that can be attributed to the expansion of central admin.
MG-J just got in on the tail end of this bloat and decided to bloat a little more, where are the results?

Latest plan from Crew MG-J is 1.0 gpa to graduate.

Why are D44.00 and D45.00 never discussed? Clear to me educating students is NOT a priority for this crew.

The idea of the public continuing to fund this debacle, without meaningful objection is to me incredible.

emeraldkity said...

What I understand about the thing about the RIFFing teachers is that a ( imo) generous raise in Seattle, was in the contract before last for teachers- but your pension would only reflect the raise if you stayed for another one/two years.

So Seattle had many fewer teachers actually retiring last year, than you would expect, the upcoming year though, I wouldn't be surprised if we see a huge retirement ( although maybe not with the economy- who can retire?- did you see the article about the 68 yr old spending his days on the golf course- but as a caddy)

John said...

That's some great work by Meg Diaz. Is there anyone who can get a response from board members?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll ask but I can't guarantee they will answer me. It can't hurt.

BullDogger said...

I picked up a copy of Meg's report at the Board meeting. This is amazing work. Some of us "minor" activists could learn a lot from her.

What Meg is really reporting is a lack of central office productivity... folks working on the wrong things (maybe quite efficiently) or just not efficiently doing the right things within the resource limitations.

I have no inside knowledge of how the district works other than they seem to spend in inordinate amount of time circling the wagons and fighting the public just as an instinctive reaction.

Is there a back story? Is SPS sending some of their "rubber room" cases to hide in the central office? Is that part of the productivity/effectivity issue?

Meg said...

So, thanks for the compliments.

1) I will chew my foot off before I serve on the school board. I have 2 elementary-aged kids. Thanks for the thought, but, um, no.

2) I don't know WHY. The numbers themselves are illuminating in highlighting where sectors of overgrowth are, but do not give me additional insight into the policies or practices that have caused the mushrooming of central administration staff. I can say that it seems odd, to put it as nicely as I can, to spend as much on Supervision of Instruction as on every principal in the district (which includes their office staff). Do I have questions as to why hiring continued when it had to have been clear that the category was already over-staffed? I do. We’ll see if they get answered. And what's done about the over-staffing. I think an awful lot of people have to make it clear that it is not okay for something to happen, though.

Renee said...

Wow! I actually forwarded this information. Its incredible. Is anybody going to contact the press with this information (the Seattle Times Lynn Varner KUOW's Phyllis Fletcher). I will if nobody has, but I'd imagine someone has... or contact the Stranger and / or the Seattle Weekly? I think this information is VITAL and needs to get out. (You could add in the Super's salary in there too) Thanks so much Meg Diaz!

Stu said...

Is there somewhere I can find the actual salaries of various SPS employees? For example, I know that MGJ makes $264,000 this year -- yes, I know, that doesn't include the stipends and retirements funds -- but how 'bout someone like Brad Bernatek? I'd love to see a whole list.

stu

lak367 said...

Stu, yes there is (for school year 2007-2008). My husband found this the other night and we played around with it. Brad Bernatek made $89,900 that year.

http://www.seattlepi.com/data/databases/teacher-salaries.asp

Bird said...

If you google "seattle school district salaries", you'll find something.

The data on this page is a couple of years old, and it's from what looks like a personal page, so you can judge its reliability for yourself. Not sure what the intended purpose of the page is. Kinda of looks like someone collects lists of public employee salaries as a hobby.

From this list, I notice that Raj Manhas made $177K in 2006. If MGJ makes $264K, that's quite a jump in expense for the district.

Sahila said...

http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2009/10/the_costly_seattle_schools_shu.php

The Weekly came up with this, pretty much all on its own regarding the closing/opening fiasco...

If we want change to happen, and to be able to influence more rather than less of that change, we need to push, push, push this stuff out there in the media...

We need to keep feeding this information to the media until they do start to run with it, and then we have to be active as commentators, countering the totally predictable rubbish that comes back about kids being molly-coddled in schools, about teachers being underworked and overpaid, about us wanting palaces and privileges for our kids, about us being whiners etc...

We need to get a presence out there - a strong group of parents/community members who have some shared values and goals and some workable ideas about how to fix this mess and go forward for our childrens' (and the City's) futures...

We want to do this in such a way that we dont leave a fissure for Broad/Gates to squeeze in via mayoral control and charters...

I'd suggest anyone who wants to find out who/what is the man behind the curtain of the Alliance for Education, NCTQ, Stand for Children etc is, then go online and do some digging, or go to

http://seattle-ed.blogspot.com/

where a lot of that work has already been done.

Some of us are working on getting together a visual representation of where Broad has infiltrated school districts throughout this country... of who does what where, naming names, joining the dots to uncover the web....

I think many people here are going to be floored by what they will see - there really is a covert agenda to take over/privatise public education and its happening here in Seattle under our very noses...

SPSMom said...

I spent some time poking around the "salaries" tool and found some very interesting data.

SPS has a total of 107 Directors for 46,000 students. That is one director for every 430 students.

Tacoma has 29 directors for its student population of about 30,000. That is one director for ever 1034 students.

SPS has 27 people catagorized as District Admin, Tacoma, 4.

If SPS was inline with Tacoma, we would need 6 District Admins. Lets be generous and say 15 given the additional complexities of the district. The means we could cut nearly 15 positions all earning near or close to $100,000.

Sahila said...

pardon the non-PC comment here, but SPS suffers from that old malady, two many chiefs and not enough indians...

top heavy in administration and not enough teachers on the ground to actually educate our children, whose welfare and educational success those administrators are supposed to be responsible for...

it they were people of good conscience, they would resign so the fat pay cheques they receive could actually find their way into the classrooms and the lives/minds of our children... where that noble sacrifice would pay off in less than a dozen years time with an amazing leap in graduation rates!

Maureen said...

Here's the Supervisior/Director salary data SPSMom mentions.

Who are these people? What do they do on a day to day basis? Are some of them failed principals or teachers? Is this Seattle's equivalent of New York's Rubber Room?

I recognize some of their names--attorneys, demographer, "Managers" of enrollment and research....But the actual "Directors"--Ammon McWashington, Patrick Johnson, Ruth Medsker... aren't on this list. They are listed under Other District Administration. There are 27 of them, being paid a total of (approximately) $2,700,000.

I completely understand that there is work to do in the District and I think we should compensate people properly for the work that they do, but we know that SPS is top heavy--the buck stops with Dr Goodloe Johnson. What is she doing with the resources we entrust to her?

Sahila said...

Sent to all Board members today, plus to all local media and the various school watchdog/activist groups I am a member/aware of...


"Dear Seattle Public Schools Board members:

I know that SPS parent Meg Diaz presented this to the Board meeting recently...

http://docs.google.com/present/view?id=0AVRHgOkrxGL8ZGhta2I4cXJfMGZqbjZqampz&hl=en

As I commented on the Seattle Weekly Blog, which ran a story on the SPS school closure/reopening debacle two days ago -

http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2009/10/the_costly_seattle_schools_shu.php -

Meg also ran and presented an analysis showing you the 2008/09 closure plan was based on flawed data and assumptions. The Board ignored her, and and now we have this situation...

Now Meg presents you with a report confirming a recent State Audit that showed more money is being spent on Administration in SPS than in any other comparable district.

And she has discovered that Superintendent Marie Goodloe Johnson and District Staff have been submitting two sets of figures when disclosing administrative costs to OSPI and to the District Board and public...

I wonder why the Superintendent and her Staff would see a need to present two sets of figures for two audiences?

What is the Board going to do about the top heavy administration within SPS, which is completely out of line with what has been happening in other districts?

And what is the Board going to do about the very concerning issue of data being doctored or tailored for different audiences?

Oh, and Director Martin-Morris - when will you have that report about Broad Foundation influence within the SPS District ready and made available to the SPS community? The time line you committed to in emails to me has long run out...

Respectfully"

uxolo said...

I believe that Mary Bass is reviewing Meg's report. Director Bass did discuss this with Holly Ferguson and the Supt prior to the school closures. Forcing an action might require a letter writing campaign.

Sahila has an example here.

Stu said...

I believe that Mary Bass is reviewing Meg's report.

I don't want this to come out the wrong way, but can't we get some of the party-of-five directors to review this? Meg's reports just confirm Mary's suspicions that everything happened to fast and without proper explanation. The best we can get out of Mary reviewing this is an "I told you so" and another quiet plea. It's unfortunate but pretty obvious that Mary Bass has virtually no pull with the rest of the board.

What will Peter Maier -- can't we get rid of him already -- or Sunquist say? Will they bother to even look at the reports? I'm betting they won't. Not unless someone, somewhere, can come up with some sort of legal issue about the dual figures issue. The Couldn't-Agree-More-With-The-Board-And-Superintendent-Seattle-Times isn't going to write something unless it's already blowing up in the public arena.

Does someone have a direct line to the board candidates? Can we force them to take a stand on the reports and size of administration? Maybe tell 'em it would be a great way to get elected?

stu

Sahila said...

This is all such a huge mess... we have Melissa and Charlie and others doing what they can to keep everyone up to date with whats coming out of the District and with clarifying the mess that is policy...

We have several dozen of us working as activists/watchdogs/truth tellers... some of us are working in a loose collaborative network and some of us are working mostly on our own...

Some of us are working as researchers and analysts (and I trust their information more than I do the material coming out of the District)...

It seems to me that there are two pieces missing. One is the action to bring this all out in the public - media, rallies, protests, concerted, focused speaking campaigns at Board meetings, the distribution of information material - some of us are working on that but we need more help...

The second piece missing is the 'enforcing' piece. That is... it seems to me that Charlie is pretty much right that the District does its best to keep right on plowing on, pretty much regardless of what we say/present...

However - many of its actions are getting to the point of being failures to act responsibly... surely we are at the point where enough stuff ups have happened that we have some sort of legal challenge available to us, on the grounds of malfeasance/abdication of fiduciary responsibility ...

But legal challenges are hard work and expensive.... a daunting task for one person or a small group to take on...

However... do we have in the SPS community two or three or four attorneys who would not be able to take this on by themselves, but who might be able to handle the size of the task if they got together and worked as a team (as some of us activists are doing)?

Maybe the SPS community couldnt pay for the work, so it would have to be done pro bono, but we probably could find a way to cough up filing fees etc....

Or maybe a team of attorneys could do the research and paperwork required to bring an action, and provide coaching/support for a bunch of parents to act Pro Se...

What do other people think?

owlhouse said...

Has anyone sent a copy of Meg's report/link to it to the Sea Council PTA? That could be a good start. If we as individuals share this research and concern with the PTAs/PTSAs in our district- that could help build momentum. Also, could challenge the assumption that PTAs will go to work to help pass the levy.

TechyMom, I'm intrigued by the initiative idea. Any more thought along those lines?

seattle citizen said...

Owlhouse,
Regarding getting an initiative up: Tim Eyman will be needing another initiative to spearhead come November after the current one is voted upon. I hear he needs to buy a new car, so maybe he's available!

TechyMom said...

I'm way out of my element on the initative stuff. I tried looking on the seattle.gov site and did some online searches, but couldn't find the steps for filing a city-wide initiative. I think the first step is likely to find someone who knows the process, and a lawyer who can tell us whether it is even legal to regulate school district spending under a city initiative. Is there anyone reading who can help with either of those things?

SSDemp said...

Stu

SSD is required to file a (275/277) report with SPI every year showing every employee's salary. Either entity can supply the current one.

Meg is completely correct on slide 5. The bars abbove the upper line have mushroomed in recent years.

Beyond the growth, there have been scores of "reclassifications and promotions" within administration since the superintendent arrived. For example Gary Ikeda was quietly give a 29% raise two years ago right after the superintendent got her 10% raise.

That is where the true overall administration costs have increased. Its a mutual admiration society in District headquaters while cutting teachers, nutrition workers and others who actually touch the lives of kids every day. Its outrageous!

SSDemp said...

The office of the Seattle Council of PTSA is in the geographic center of the school district's headquaters.

For anyone thinking they may not be aware of what Meg is illustrating, that should say it all

PN said...

The last chart (of the Diaz report) is particularly helpful in that when the State Auditor’s (August 2008) Performance Audit noted that SSD has 39% greater expenditures than Washington "peer" district's, the District’s response was "We need different peers". These national urban districts should qualify with similar results.

College&CareerWoman said...

Thanks for the great research and presentation.
I've sent the link to WEA, WA-ACTE and a Career Specialist group in South Puget Sound that meets monthly.
There should be legislation to limit the amount of money spent on central administration in any school district. The money needs to be paid to people within the schools. This emphasis on teachers is very limited. Support staff are absolutely necessary.
One staff member I know felt that all district administrators needed to spend at least two months in a school to know what it was like and what they were administering.

Stu said...

One staff member I know felt that all district administrators needed to spend at least two months in a school to know what it was like and what they were administering.

I absolutely LOVE this idea. Every administration hire should be required to spend at least two months in a school, on sort of a trial basis, before being hired. One of the major complaints about this board, and the staff, is that they don't look at the repercussions of their decisions and the effect it has on the families and the students.

This should be an initiative or law somewhere.

stu

dan dempsey said...

Math error above.
So sorry.

$20,000,000 / $90,000 =
2000/9 = 2,200 teachers
NOT

it should be 220 teachers.
this meshes a lot better with the fact that
on 11/5/2009 the district revealed that 111.5 coaches were employed for 2009-2010.

Thus lots of teachers needed to be RIFed.