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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

State Auditor's Report on K-12 Schools

It was pointed out that I have repeatedly referenced the State Auditor's report (entitled "School Districts' Administration and Support Services" and dated September 20, 2008) without providing a link. Here it is. It's 142 pages but a summary of the recommendations for Seattle are on page 89 and the District's response is on page 126. Hope this helps.

3 comments:

Bruce Taylor said...

The auditor's report says:

"Seattle has 39 percent more executives, managers and supervisors per student than average for the 10 districts. ... Seattle’s higher-than-average staffing level cost the District an additional $2.1 million ($1.7 million in salaries for 24 people
plus benefits of $430,000). Over a five-year period, this level of staffing will cost the District an estimated $10.5 million."


The school district's reply on page 128 seems to be (if I'm reading it right):

"Our district is more complicated than the other nine districts the auditor looked at. Seattle's administrative expenses are in line with those of big-city districts nationwide. If we could afford better training for our administrative staff, we would need fewer workers."

Is that a fair summary of the district's take-away from this portion of the audit?

The district's response also includes a reference to "systems and procedures which are very labor-intensive" -- is that a reference to the VAX system I read about previously on this blog?

Charlie Mas said...

Did Seattle Public Schools provide any data on the administrative expenses of big-city districts nationwide? If they didn't, then how do we know that the administrative costs in Seattle are, in fact, comparable?

When the Board gave the Superintendent a 10% raise this year, they said it was, in part, to make her pay comparable to the pay of similar positions, but they didn't provide the comps. The pay for superintendents at the two school districts that I would regard as comparable, Portland and Anchorage, is SIGNIFICANTLY less than the $264,000 they are paying Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.

So pardon me if I don't just take their word for it. What are the administrative expenses in Portland and Anchorage and other school districts of our size? Not L.A., not New York, not Chicago - school districts about the same size as Seattle.

Melissa Westbrook said...

B.T. I think your read on the district's reply on its overload of staff at the headquarters is correct.

I'm not sure what training administrative staff needs. Is it to use technology systems? Is it to manage staff? What the administrative staff is missing is unclear to me.

And yes, I would think that the response about having to do many things manually could be, in part, the VAX system used for assignments. I know they are trying, as we speak, to migrate information off the VAX but I have no idea how it is going.

However, if the district wanted to look like it was doing something, they could say, "When, for example, the VAX migration of information is done, we will be cutting back staff." That makes it look like it is on their radar.

Also, in case you missed it elsewhere, Don Kennedy's recent letter to staff says they are recommending to the Board that there be a hiring freeze. Meanwhile over in Facilities, they want to take $500,000 of BEX money and use it to pay a senior manager for 3 years. First, how is there so much stray BEX money around when they are using more and more of it to pay off Garfield overruns? And two, I would assume they would want to keep this manager after 3 years so where would the money come for this $l65,000 a year person?