Friday, April 4, 2008

Administrative Costs, Part II

Mike Antonucci of Elk Grove CA runs a one-man outfit called the Education Intelligence Agency. I don't know anything about his political views, but he posts some pretty interesting data which he says is extracted from government reports. Here's one that ranks the US states by the number of teachers versus district level administrators.

It places Ohio 49th out of 51 (the District of Columbia is included), with a ratio of only 19.7 teacher full-time-equivalents per administrator. Mr Antonucci says: "Pennsylvania and Ohio have almost the same number of teachers, but Ohio has four times as many district administrators."

I wonder what it is about Ohio's approach to running schools that makes our level of administrative overhead so much higher than Pennsylvania. I wouldn't think the urban/rural mix is all that different - PA has big post-industrial cities and lots of farmland too. I wouldn't think the ethnic mix is all that different either. Their schools are organized on the community level rather than county - just like ours. If anyone has any insights into this, please comment.

Michigan beats us soundly as well. While we have only 19.7 teachers per administrator, Michigan has 47.4 - meaning we have 2.5 times as many administrators per teacher.

Only South Dakota and New Mexico have teacher/administrator ratios lower than ours. These states have tiny and dispersed populations compared to the states of the Great Lakes region and the northeast, where you would think our large school districts would produce economies of scale.

I'll continue to look through his research and post links as I find information that might provide some clarity to our situation.


  1. Interesting Summary. From public records.

    Regular Classroom
    Hlth/Trainer (2)
    Computer (3)
    Industrial Tech(3)
    Fam & Cons Sci (5)
    French (6)
    German (6)
    Business (11)
    Health/Phys Ed (23)
    Art (39)
    6th Grade (45)
    English (45)
    1st Grade (47)
    5th Grade (51)
    4th Grade (53)
    2nd Grade (57)
    3rd Grade (58)

    Total Classroom Teachers = 454

    Intervention Autism Spec (1)
    Intervention Fam Prevent(1)
    Intervention Reading Recovery (4)
    Intervention Kdg (13)
    Intervention (16)
    Intervention Gifted Spc (17)
    Intervention Guid Counselor (33)
    Intervention Psychologist (19)
    Intervention ELL (30)
    Intervention Title Reading (36)
    Intervention Spec (82)

    Total Intervention Teachers = 252

    A few oberservations…

    *Total Reg Classroom Teachers: 454

    *Total "Intervention" Teachers: 252

    *1.8-to-1.0 Classroom to Intervention

    *82 Intervention Specialists (Most of any category)

    *17 "gifted" instructors vs 19 psychologists (Does not include 33 Guidance Counselors) - sign of the times??

    *17 "gifted" teachers vs 40 Reading Recovery/Title reading teachers

    *13 Kindergarten Intervention teachers KINDERGARTEN????

  2. Wow! I think you've found the smoking gun as far as validating charges of administrative waste and abuse.

    It seems inexplicable to me why we would be that top heavy with administrative costs relative to other states.

  3. Does anyone have a similar breakdown of administrative staff like what was provided above for teaching staff?

    I've been the the website, but haven't found a good single-source document that lists all of the admin. For instance, only the high school principal is listed, yet I know there are 4 assistant principles per high school and at least one attendance principal. There are also a series of curriculum coordinators that work out of central office, yet they aren't listed anywhere.

    There are a lot of administrative positions that aren't on the website or called out in the financial reports.

    Thanks to anyone who can lay out the administration in complete form.

  4. Someone asked about Administration. Here are 76 Administration/Support of Administration positions.

    This is not an complete list. There are other positions that fall into the "gray" area between Admin and support.

    Accounting Clerk (6)
    Admin Asst (3)
    Coordinator, Admin Tech (1)
    Coordinator, Custodial (1)
    Coordinator, Human Resources (1)
    Coordinator, Human Resources Assistant (1)
    Coordinator, Instructional Technology (1)
    Coordinator, Maintenance (1)
    Coordinator, Operations (1)
    Coordinator, Special Education (4)
    Coordinator, Transportation (1)
    Coordinator, Transportation Assistant (3)
    Coordinator, Warehouse (1)
    Custodian (3)
    Director, Assessment & Research (1)
    Director, Business Affairs (1)
    Director, Curriculum (3)
    Director, Proffesional Development (1)
    Director, Pupil Services (1)
    Director, Technology (1)
    Fiscal Office Manager (1)
    Network Technology Administrator (2)
    Payroll Coordinator (1)
    Public Relations (2)
    School/Business Partner (1)
    Secretary (14)
    Superintendent (1)
    Superintendent, Assistant (3)
    Supplemental Services (1)
    Teacher Leader (5)
    Technology Teacher (6)
    Treasurer (1)
    Treasurer, Assistant (1)
    Web Master (1)

  5. Let me not forget to add
    - 1 principal per elementary school (14)
    - 6 per high school (12)
    - 2 per school middle school (6)
    - 2 per sixth grade building (4)
    - 1 preschool principal (1)

    Add 37 to the other 76.

    Grand total 113 (not complete)

  6. Scoop,

    Thanks! Good info.

    Aren't AD's administrative positions?

    Each high school as 1 AD and at least 1 assistant, and each middle school has 1 and at least 0.5 assistants. Plus I know the High schools have secretaries for the AD dept.

    That's another 8 or 9.

    Why do we have 6 Principals per high school?

    Why do we have 3 assistant supers?

    Why do we have 3 directors of curriculum?

    Do junior high athletic directors need an assistant?

    14 secretaries? Does EVERYBODY need a secretary? I check my own email, is it that hard? My group at Battelle is 108 strong and we have exactly 3 secretaries. And our primary product is written reports and proposals. Let's see, that's about 36:1. HCSD is about 7:1. A factor of FIVE.

    2 PR people? Couldn't one of the 14 secretaries draft communication letters? The PR staff never says anything, so that can't be why they are there. Must be to take dictation.

    I don't even know what teaching leaders are!!! Are they HEA or Administration? I looked them up and they don't show up as HEA employees (at least not by that title).

    From the list provided for teachers, intervention specialists, and admin I see a lot of areas for cutbacks WITHOUT directly impacting normal classroom operations.

    But where have the cuts come from so far? The classroom.

    Guess we need to feel the pain.

  7. Scoop:

    Thanks for the info.

    A number of the positions you list are held by OAPSE members, such as admin assistants, accounting clerks and secretaries.

    Others, such as the Teacher Leaders, and the Technology Teachers are members of HEA, the teacher's union.

    I know you're addressing the question of what roles we have outside the classroom, not whether they are union members or not. I'm simply clarifying that "Administration" is not the same thing as "Management."

    You may have seen this headcount distribution before. While it shows the big picture, your detail is very informative.

    The one that surprised me the most was the 19 psychologists. This function has to cost at least $1 million/yr alone.

    This is what happens after years of incrementalism. There was probably a good argument for every hire in every job category. But now it's really starting to add up.

    The question before the people of Hilliard now is whether we are prepared to continue to foot the bill for all these positions. Do we really have champagne taste and a beer budget, or are we willing to continue to spring for the bubbly? The School Board needs to get a handle on this before the November election.

    In a very real way, the community is now negotiating with the Board. The Board said they wanted 9.5 mills. The community said "No" - and pretty convincingly.

    The next move for isn't to just put the same amount up for vote again. Perhaps a conversation (not a survey) with the community needs to take place to discuss what we're willing pay for going forward. The levy defeat demonstrates how flawed the Board's understanding of the community has become.

    To get on the Nov 4 ballot, the levy issue - with the millage amount decided - must be filed with the Board of Elections by Aug 21, just 138 days from now. Absentee voting can begin Sept 30, in 178 days. I suspect a great many people will vote absentee to avoid the kind of crazy lines we had in 2004.

    There are just 38 days of school left (the Seniors have only 32 days remaining). It will be hard to get a meaningful dialog going once school is out.

    The Board has just 7 meetings scheduled prior to when the levy issue must be filed (if we disregard the 'retreat').

    In other words, there's a lot of work to do, and not much time.


  8. Paul,

    Yes, I understand some titles I listed were OAPSE members and HEA members.

    However, they do serve in an administrative capacity or directly in support of central office. For instance, the custodians are clearly not administration. That's why I entitled these positions as "Administration/Support of Administration positions". You are correct, I was trying to show the breakdown directly tied to administration/non-teaching management. I did leave off maintenance and the like. Mainly because they can't be directly linked to administration or central office.

    I realize it's not a complete list. It's also not completely an administration list. But it paints the picture of what I think KJ and others were asking.

    But thanks for the clarification. You are right to minimize any misstatements or inaccuracies.

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  11. I think it's time that Hilliard looks at what neighboring Dublin is accomplishing for their tax payers. Dublin is cutting costs and not proposing a levy increase until 2010. They are being very proactive and up front with the community. No closed door secretive sessions that don't include the community that pays their wages. Perhaps Dublin doesn't want to be in the situation that Hilliard is in.

  12. A Hilliard high school teacher emailed me (and said they wouldn't mind me passing it along) that "Hilliard is apparently well known across all of Ohio. People are moving here solely because of the Hilliard City School system. Why you say? Because we are THE most accommodating school system in Ohio. People have moved here with their troubled children from all over Ohio...Cleveland, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Columbus, Toledo. Our administration is so afraid to put a kid out on their butt for fear of dropping our 'Continuing improvement' label or whatever it is, given by the state report card. It is causing an influx of disciplinary problem students. We have so many psychologists so these kids can get professional help for free....with taxpayer money of course."

    The shame of it is the Administration is cutting muscle, not fat from the budget. Why? My connection says because it's an old boy network and the Administrators take care of their own.

  13. I think perhaps there's a little hyperbole in the teacher's statement. In fact, I know two families personally who fought hard with the school district to get the services their child needed. One of them went to far as filing a lawsuit, but in the typical Hilliard Schools mode of secrecy, the settlement agreement included a requirement that the family not disclose the details.

    Another family I have spoken with took their family out of Hilliard Schools because of what they felt was the lack of appropriate support. The child has been enrolled in a charter school and is doing well.

    But this is not the first time I've heard that Hilliard is particularly accommodating of kids with special needs, and there is no doubt some truth in that. I believe there is also some additional funding from the State to help with the costs of any special programming or assistance which is needed, but I don't know if it is enough to cover the actual costs.

    Nor do I know if there are truly enough special needs kids in the district to have a material impact on the total operating costs. Anyone out there have any facts on this?


  14. Hi Paul,

    I think the special needs are having a tremendous financial impact on the district, based on the amount of intervention staffing. According to the numbers in the first post, we have 1 intervention type teacher for every 1.8 classroom teachers. I was stunned when I read that we had 13 intervention teachers for kindergarten alone and that there were 19 psychologists. However, in the context that the district may be providing ongoing mental health counseling or similar services for students, the numbers start to paint a clearer picture. This warrants some looking into of what exactly do these psychologists and intervention people do. Are we as taxpayers providing services that should be paid for by parents beyond initial diagnosis and recommendation for getting help? I am not responsible as a taxpayer to provide ongoing mental health services to someone else's kid. I have NO mental health coverage in my insurance policy, if I needed help, it would come totally out of my pocket. I am completely in favor of math, reading, basic education tutoring and assistance for children that might fall behind. Same for ELL, teach these children English, and we will be better off in the long run. If our school district is becoming famous for providing free assistance for people with kids that need mental health help or extensive tutoring, I think we should question the board in detail about this kind of spending. Side note, did you see in the weekly paper that the superintendent and the board president issued written statements about the spending cuts? Is this how they plan to communicate with us until they put a new levy on the ballot?

  15. I asked an elementary teacher friend last week what all those psychologists do. She said they are very busy folks, involved very much in all the individualized education plans for the many kids who on these.

    Many organizations, especially when they are growing, develop a bad case of what we can call "needs inflation." This is the process where, over time, roles and duties which were once added as a 'nice-to-have' somehow transform into a 'must have' position.

    I'm one of the owners of a start up business in the Hilliard School district. Our money is very tight, and we need to pinch every penny. So yesterday I put on my rubber gloves and cleaned toilets in the employee bathrooms. Our engineers were mopping floors. Everyone understands that for our company to survive, we can't be spending money on a cleaning crew when we're fully capable of doing this stuff ourselves.

    Don't get me wrong - I'm not asking our teachers to clean bathrooms. But I am suggesting that there are very likely job functions which can be redistributed, eliminating the need for some positions. You don't even need to lay people off - just don't replace folks who retire or resign without at least considering if that person's work can be redistributed.

    And yes, I know that there are situations when 'the bosses' choose to not replace a worker and instead spread the work out over an already-overworked team. Errors happen in both directions (workers want more workers than are necessary, bosses want the team to get the job done with inadequate resources).

    In my opinion, the thing that's missing is market forces. The path of the money from the customers (the parents) to the service providers (teachers and staff) is so convoluted that the connection is lost. Parents come to think of the school system as free except for the periodic occasions when we are asked to vote on a levy. Teachers don't see any connection between performance and compensation, and so the compensation comes to feel like a 'right' rather than the consumer's reward for a job well done.

    This would change with a 100% voucher system, as I've spoken about for a long time now.

  16. School psychologists do not provide mental health counseling services for students. They function very differently from a traditional psychologist in that they are responsible for testing and qualifying students for special education services, managing individualized education plans and serving on building intervention assistance teams. Students in need of counseling are often referred to guidance counselors and school nurses. Students who require in depth intervention are referred to outside agencies for professional psychological services. In some instances at the high school level, outside agencies work closely with the schools and provide group sessions during the school day.

  17. In regards to 100% voucher system has there been a discussions of such a system in the state legislature? Just curious on my part....

  18. In the State Legislature? Don't know. There is however a movement developing called "Fund the Child" which - on the surface - looks like a voucher system.

    This particular idea is being pushed by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. I don't know if this organization has any underlying partisan agenda - so many of these noble sounding organizations do - but I like what they are saying to the extent that it promotes free choice in schools.

    The Dispatch published a rebuttal letter a few days later. The letter was written by the Executive Director of the organization that is pushing the Getting It Right For Ohio's Future amendment - which I personally oppose. This organization and its proposed amendment are supported by the Ohio Education Association - the teachers' union.