In October, I produced a fancy set of charts. It was boring and budget-y, in the way of many a power point presentation, but relevant in a nerdy way. The upshot of the fancy charts: SPS's central administration was tooooo big. And it looked like the fastest growing segment in central administration was Supervision of Instruction.
The district responded that, well, um, you see, they had "mis-coded" $10.3M worth of coaches (although judging from the CFOO's financial report about a month later, p23, it would appear that it was ack-shully $11.1M of coaches), and if you just counted the coaches as teachers, everything was ducky. No problems here.
That's pretty much the end of the recap.
The thing is, kids, if you take a quick peek on OSPI (at the always scintillating F-195 budget reports), where, according to SPS officials, "this year, the 'miscoding' of coaches to central administration will continue," you'll find something that looks like this.
Okay. The slide is fuzzy and pixilated. But guess what segment of SPS grew last year, when every single other budget segment got chopped back a little? That's right: Central Administration. And even if you subtract coaching out of it (and puh-leaze, let's not get all literal-minded about "if you can't hire, fire or promote, you're not part of Supervision of Instruction, even if your primary job duty is to manage the professional development of another person" because it's just a dumb argument), guess what still grew? Yup. Central Administration.
The thing about the whole coaching investment* remaining stable (instead of getting the chop, as classrooms did in the form of increased class sizes in grades 4 and 5), is that if you read the Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2009-10, you'll come across a little something that indicates that SPS's investment in coaching was pruned back last year by about $2.4M. Except. It wasn't. Unless there are even more coaches running around the district than district leadership is letting on.
Let's take a look, shall we?
So, I get that the charts for Crappy! Chart! Thursday! really do suck, but... that's kind of a separate issue (for which I am willing to be bribed to improve, FYI).
In the bar chart above, each long bar is a year, and represents Supervision of Instruction, which is part of Central Administration. The green bit represents coaches, who now will be classified as teachers (the light blue is the remainder of the Supervision of Instruction segment). If you wanted to be cynical, you would say that this could make it harder to sort out growth in coaching if you hide the segment in with teachers. But none of us are cynical, right? Of course not. Anyway, it turns out that no, 28 coaching positions for a sum of $2.4M didn't go away. Coaching remained stable - and Supervision of Instruction grew. Again.
Do I have a point? Well... maybe not yet. But I have a whole lotta questions, like: does district staff really plan on increasing class sizes (again) and protecting the coaching expenses (again)?
And most of all, I want to ask: Dudes, what is up with this?
*So, I said this back in November, but I should say it again. There could be a valid case for the district's decision to invest so heavily in coaches. However, the district should make that case, clearly, thoroughly and openly, and acknowledge that there are also valid counter-arguments, particularly when keeping coaches may mean cuts to classrooms. And that I've seen, it hasn't been done. And that's where my beef with the segment is: there is no public rationale for it. It is clearly a spending priority for district administration, but there's been no disclosure of why.
Saying that it "aligns with the Strategic Plan" by the way, is not the same as making a rational, clear case.