Mr. Thurmond keeps expressing his shock and surprise that the Central Office only represents 6% of the total operating budget! Shocked, he says! Only 6%! He references the ‘Budget Development Presentation’ made about the HR budget to the Committee of the Whole by our head of HR, Tekshia Ward-Smith.
Basically, here’s how she makes her case:
First, we’re told there are 12,417 employees (FT & PT) plus 1,311 substitutes for a total of 13,728 employees. So we go with 12,417 as our total number of employees. Agreed.
Then, she breaks down the 12,417 as:
General Fund 10,429
Special Revenue 982
Food Service 995
But watch as she breaks the number down again by just General Fund:
Location / Count
School-Based / 8,587
System Support / 1,220
Central Office / 622
So see where she got the 6%? She shows only 622 of 10,429 as ‘Central Office’ – a technicality for sure!
She doesn’t include employees paid with “Special Revenue” or those under the umbrella she now calls “System Support” (defined as bus drivers, etc.). However, all of these jobs are certainly costing money that could possibly be reduced or redefined in order to push more funds into the classrooms. The only exception is food service, which is its own separate entity and is self supporting. We are not sure what constitutes “Special Revenue” but think it’s Title 1 and RTTT – at any rate, it’s 982 jobs – which in our opinion, could actually be classified as Central Office. We are very curious about what exactly these 982 “Special Revenue” people do – it’s conveniently left out of Tekshia’s report.
So now that we’ve taken Special Revenue off the table — we still have ‘System Support’ staff — 1220 jobs that she defines as Bus Drivers, Bus Monitors, Crossing Guards, Psychologist, Social Workers, Nurses – all important in terms of school support, but not many of whom actually interact with or teach students.
So Ward-Smith’s breakout certainly looks like quite the shell game!! We can play it too. Watch carefully…
Let’s say we did include these categories set aside by Ward-Smith in the total for Central Office – say the CO and System Support and Special Revenue are all considered “Central Office Administration and School Support”… or simply – ‘non-classroom-based employees’, which is generally what the public is referring to when they ask for cuts to the Central Office.
THAT total would be 982 (Special Revenue: Title 1, RTTT employees – who may or may not work in the schoolhouse; we can’t get an answer) + 1,220 (System Support: bus drivers, custodians, etc) + 622 (Central Office staff: those with a desk at the Central Office) = 2,824
Now of the total jobs (12,417 not including include subs), 2,824 in the groups above represent 22.75% of the total… So, calculating it this way, basically, 22.75% of all employees do not work in the school house or interact with students in a meaningful way.
Now, let’s play with the numbers even more and take food service completely off the table. Let’s pretend they are not employees at all – they are just an outside contractor that provides food. That takes 995 employees off the total. (12,417 – 995 = 11,422). We basically have 11,422 employees if we don’t count substitutes or food service. Now – 2,824 (the total of those who don’t work in the school house helping teachers or directly impacting students) represents 24.7% of the total! That means that without counting cafeteria workers and subs (since counting subs would be like counting teachers twice), that 24.7% of our total employees do not directly help educate students in any way. Moreover, pay attention to the one fact the administration never publicizes: How many classroom teachers do we employ these days?
Hmmm…. Ain’t numbers fun?!!
Again, it’s semantics. Most folks simply agree that no matter how you like to twist the numbers or label departments, we have too many administrators and/or people who are not directly helping to teach students in any way. However, many of these support staff and special revenue folks could directly impact students — and they should! We can take many or most of the special revenue folks and put them in the schools working with small groups of children giving them direct instruction and tutoring support for teachers instead of the current method of evaluating teachers, inspecting bulletin boards and word walls and generally criticizing. No, they need to roll up their sleeves and jump in the soup and get to work helping to actually teach! Now that could lift up test scores!
For those who are curious, this is how the approved Proposed Consolidated Budget for 2013 breaks down:
2013 Proposed General Budget $759,706,033 (67% of total)
(Oddly, though, Tekshia’s presentation shows this number as $732,008,431)
2013 Proposed Special Revenue Budget $95,146,114 (8% of total)
2013 Proposed Budget for Debt Service: $52,439,750 (5% of total)
2013 Proposed Capital Outlay: $149,290,048 (13% of total)
2013 Proposed Food Service Budget: $54,013,769 (5% of total)
2013 Proposed Budget for Trust & Agency: $19,625,500 (2% of total)
Total Consolidated Budget for 2013: $1,130,221,214
Yes, that’s $1.1 Billion dollars. Our school leaders collect and spend over a Billion Dollars every year – to educate about 98,000 children. And they can’t seem to do it. Further, this doesn’t even include the cost of construction and renovations – SPLOST covers that – to the tune of about $125 million every year! That’s A LOT of pennies!