District Statement (well, okay. Peter Maier’s statement in the recent Stranger candidate debate):
“Within the past two years the district [SPS] has reduced Central Administration by one third.”
Actual Factual Facts!
Hee. Central Administration is, officially, about one third less than it was. In 2009-10 it was listed at $52M, and in 2010-11 at $35M. So officially: lower.
You knew there was a “but” coming, right?
The one third “reduction” wasn’t completely through, well… “reductions.” It was through the re-classification of about 1/3 of Central Administration expenses to Teaching.
Which is kind of different than a spending reduction.
It’s not unlike Stumpy coming to me after realizing that my frivolous dress budget has ballooned in the past couple of years (dude. I wish), and me agreeing to trim it (sadly, it’s already been trimmed. Because my life is soooooooo harrrrrrrd. [silent tears of suffering]).
So let's say that after agreeing to reduce the frivolous dress budget, I realize that I don’t really want to trim it, because I love me some frivolous dresses (which, okay. I do).
Let’s imagine that I decide (through torturous and easy-to-argue-with reasoning) that because sometimes I think about walking into the back yard to pet my goat’s nose whilst wearing a fancy dress that really, approximately one third of my dress budget should qualify as goat maintenance, which is part of the larger home/yard/schtuff maintenance budget.
We will ignore the fact that there is a snowball’s chance in hell I would go anywhere near my goats while wearing one of my fancy dresses, because they like to confirm, by chewing, that my clothing is not a snack. And if they chewed on one of my fancy dresses I would host a rather sorrowful barbecue in which goat tacos were the main dish.
But that’s not the point.
So. Back to the point. Because there is one!
What I’m trying to say, not very wittily, is that reclassifying an expense is not the same as reducing it.
And while Central Administration did have some expense reduction, the bulk of “reductions” came through moving expenses to other parts of the SPS budget. Which expenses? Funny you should ask. I've got details! And charts!
In late 2009, it came to the district’s attention that Central Administration was well out of line with other districts in the area. District administration looked at the Central Administration budget, and one growth area really, really stuck out: professional development coaches (which were part of Supervision of Instruction). There were somewhere between 100-120 of them – numbers from senior district management at the time differ in different presentations.
After a little hemming and hawing, management said that PD coaches should be classified as teachers, and had been mis-classified to Central Administration.
If you want a meaningful understanding of changes to Central Administration expenditures, either consistently compare year to year Central Administration expenses with coaches, or consistently make year to year comparisons without coaches. Doing it one year with coaches and the next year without makes the comparison useless – an apples to oranges comparison, when we're all looking for apples to apples.
Super Truthy Analysis™!The district did reduce Central Administration expenses. However, SPS did not reduce Central Administration expenditures by one third through expense reduction; they reclassified a large portion of Central Administrative expenses and made some reductions.