Thursday, October 22, 2009

$800 Sequined Genie Pants and Other Expensive Mistakes

I'm going to go a little lighter from now on for Crappy! Chart! Thursdays! (every third? I don't know yet). I just don't quite have it in me to turn out a chart a week without eventually resorting to charting my desire for fancy shoes as it compares with my ability to purchase fancy shoes. And as fascinated as I might be by the chasm separating those two things, even I can see it would be l-l-l-lame to actually chart it. Today, I admit, I rummaged around in my old charts to see if I had some grungy old thing I could chuck up here. No dice. So... I made a new chart for Crappy! Chart! Thursday!, in revolting shades of orange, because we are (as Curly is reminding me NON-FREAKING-STOP) getting ever closer to Halloween. So, first, let's all briefly remember my fanciest ev-uh Crappy! Chart! Thursday! from a couple of weeks ago. That slide pack is actual, bona-fide, gen-u-ine nerd-o-rific analysis. I researched and analyzed and verified until I was cursing my nerdiness, because it totally interfered with ogling clothing I can't afford on net-a-porter and my conversations with Stumpy got extremely monotonous (ME: "Honey, do you think using CAGR here explains this the best?" Stumpy: "Hmm. Maybe you should switch to a line chart and illustrate the growth in overall percentage terms instead of going with CAGR again." Yeah. Sexily fascinating conversations.). Anyway, I was trying to point out: please don't consider this is full-on analysis. It's preliminary. Should you use it to inform yourself further? Sure, but it's a springboard, not The Definitive Answer.

I have gotten my fashion ogling fix in the last couple of weeks, since I've been spending a little less time with budget data (getting dropped on my head has enforced backing off on the geekery, becuse I find that spending too long staring at a screen magnifies the stupid concussion headaches). But... I also had a couple of public records requests come through (and I will say for the SPS public records point person: she has been unfailingly polite, nice and helpful to me, even though, as my father likes to point out, I am a professional-quality pain in the ass), one of which had salary information for the central office. It will take me a while to wade through it, particularly since I've got other stuff to do. I've got a soccer team to coach, yard work to catch up on, a painting I am closing in on being 18 months overdue on (oops), and crud like laundry and dinner. There's more to life than being a SuperGeek! (which I am considering for a Halloween costume. My Batman nerd-belt would have a calculator AND a slide rule. Take that, Evil Data Sheet!).

Anyway. One of the things keeping me from wading through a data sheet of salary information was that I was hypnotized by the utter, delightful, mesmerizing insanity of these pants on net-a-porter. Where do you wear $800 sequined formal genie pants? Hmm. I think I'm stumped on that. I don't know how to go about charting it. Because you could do a survey, and it might be safe to say that 99/100 women who are on hallucinogenics would STILL refuse to wear them. Anywhere. Even if they were paid to. While staring, I could not help but think, mantra-like: oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear. Which, as it happens, is exactly the reaction I had when I realized that there are 43 people in the central administration earning over $100,000. Dollars. Not Zimbabwean dollars (I think $100K in Zim would maybe get you a stick of gum nowadays, because Mr. Mugabe appears to think that insane inflation is fabulous. Huh. Maybe he would wear the genie pants). No, we're talking USD, baby. And the thing is (as I understand it, anyway), the only person who earns more than that in most schools is the principal. Hmm. So... in salary alone, without counting benefits, SPS spends $5.5 million on its top 43 administrators. If you want to chuck in the over $90,000 set downtown (and heck, why wouldn't you?), you're up to $8.5 milllllllion dollars (please use your best Dr. Evil voice for the millllllion dollars). That seems like a mistake. Not the calculation. No, the mistake seems to be the amount of money being poured into central administration during (say it with me!) a budget shortfall. Did I mention that's all those millions don't include the benefits? Right. Benefits NOT included. Benefits often add at least another 30%-ish, just, you know, to be clear about that.

I think spending this much money on the district's top brass is a mistake. Just like buying $800 formal sequined genie pants would be a mistake. I guess it's a bonus day - a crappy chart AND a useful fashion tip.


LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

How many SPS employees does it take to screw in a light bulb?

It's hard to say, because we don't have all the data, but at least 5:

One central administrator to coach the person screwing in the light bulb.

One central administrator to make sure the light bulb is aligned.

One central administrator to make sure the light bulb is college-ready.

One central administrator to offer professional development on screwing in the light bulb.

And, oh yeah, one teacher to actually screw in the light bulb.

Robin said...

How does that make sense? A district is complex only at a central admin level, how the *!%* do they think they got complex if not from the schools. Meg, it just seems to be getting worse and worse. Again, another very crappy chart!! Thanks.

Amanda Hosch said...

Hi Meg,

I commented in an earlier post.

I wanted to say that your charts rock!

And you find some pretty cool shoes;-)


Meg said...

LA and Robin- So, weirdly, I can see how the increase in administrators and salaries would happen. I think administrative overgrowth is something that the administration and public have to be really vigilant about - there are a lot of interesting things to look into or try (the MAP assessments, for instance). And it's hard to look at someone who's doing a great job (and not everyone in administration is just sitting pretty on a cushy job) and say "Great job. No raise. Ever."
But the cool initiatives and assessments all cost money and take staffers, and right now, if it doesn't directly, measurably help district students, it should probably be cut.

Amanda- Thanks. I am a shoe lovin' fool.