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LJWorld.com weblogs Yes, I did say that!

USD 497 - Excessive Administration Costs

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http://worldonline.media.clients.elli... The Administration costs of the Lawrence Public School system are in excess of $8,000,000 (eight million). This includes 33 principals, associate principals, and assistant principals for 23 schools; 26 administrators at the ESDC (Administration Building); and, 55 administrative services employees.

The school board wants suggestions on how to reduce the budget by $4 million.

One half of the amount could be realized by reducing administrative personnel and combining positions. Cut the number of ESDC administrators by 50%; this would save $1.3 million per year. One obvious example is the Director of Human Resources. There is currently a director of classified and a director of certified employees; combine these functions and save $100,000 per year. Repeat this process 12 more more times. The district will still have 12 administrators at a cost of $1.36 million.

Reduce Administrators at the school level. Each High school could eliminate the assistant principals, leaving a principal and associate principal. South and Southwest Junior High, along with the attached Elementary Schools could each eliminate one principal. The Elementary principal could provide double-duty as assistant (the disciplinarian) principal at the Junior High. West and Central Junior High could share an assistant. This would reduce administration at the middle and secondary level by seven. Elementary schools with less then 350 students could share principals; a reduction of five. These measures would save an additional $1.2 million per year.

We are over half way there at $2.5 million.

Learning coaches (teachers that teach teachers to teach) could be eliminated and replaced by a simple peer mentoring program. These 15 positions account for $573,000 of non-federal money.

We are at $3 million and have yet to close a school or fire a classroom teacher.

There was an addition to the budget that reduced the student ratio by one; it was budgeted at $991,961. Rescind that idea and save the final $1 million dollars. Unfortunately, we just cut our first teaching positions. However, these positions were unplanned until the beginning of this school year.

There it is. A formula that will save 4 million dollars per year. This will be an awful solution for 13 ESDC administrators, 12 principals (or assistants), and 15 teacher teachers. But, it will be a great decision for all of the schools, each and every student, and the teachers who actually impact and teach the children.

It is time to quit cutting the janitors, secretaries, librarians, para-professionals, teachers and even school buildings. It is time to cut the real fat - administration.

Comments

Benjamin Roberts 4 years, 2 months ago

@ Freestater456 - Please consider going to the School Board meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 8, 2010.

Repeat what you have stated here. You have made excellent points that support at least one alternative for reducing the budget. The Board needs to hear from students; your perspective should be of interest to them.

@ bearded_gnome - Thank you for the kind words. I am hopeful that the Board reads and considers what the public is saying. They are elected as representatives of the constituents and should act accordingly. They need to quit acting as if they are representatives of the Administration and, as such, must convey the Administration's will to the people.

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bearded_gnome 4 years, 2 months ago

in the media it just seems they've already decided on closing New York School! the crp about it being the most expensive per student there!
okay, out of grades k-6, which is the most expensive per student? then, let's cut out third grade!
DIST, your blog posting is magnificent. good luck convincing
somebody* in decisionmaking!

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Freestater456 4 years, 2 months ago

True you could merge the positions of vice principals and counselors. I think most people feel like the counselor is supposed to be someone that they can confide in and blah blah blah.... so they wouldn't want to make that person a disciplinarian. While that is a stupid reason, I honestly think it could be true. People are so concerned about the student's feelings these days. Makes me sick and I'm a senior in high school. I would have no issue merging the vice principal and counselors, considering I haven't visited my vice prinicpal in the 3 years I've been at Free State.

I just wish we could get the school board to seriously consider some of these possibilities because closing schools should be the last thing on the list of ideas.

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Benjamin Roberts 4 years, 2 months ago

@ salad - Thank you. However, if I were on the School Board I would have to deal with people like me - no, thank you!

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salad 4 years, 2 months ago

Excellent suggestions. This person should be on the school board.

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Benjamin Roberts 4 years, 2 months ago

@ katjok - You are welcome. This is the kind of information that Administration should be providing to the Board. Unfortunately, it would imperil their own livelihoods - a conflict of interest, so to speak. The Board really just needs to demand that the Superintendent do his job and provide a bottom-up budget that corrects for the shortfall, preserves voter-approved schools, and keeps classroom teachers in place. Should the Head Administrator (Superintendent) fail to do that, the board should find someone that can.

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katjok 4 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for the clarification! That makes perfect sense. Too bad it seems like the ones making the decisions and the administrators are in kahoots.

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Benjamin Roberts 4 years, 2 months ago

@ hotrodlincoln1 - No unicorns or pixie dust here; just simple business math and decisions. Look at the budget, do the math. It is possible to eliminate the waste and cut the fat at the Administrative level. It would not be easy or pleasant; however, it would be in the best interest of the children.

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sandersen 4 years, 2 months ago

No one, with the exception of the legislature in it's non-existent wisdom, is forcing the school board to do anything.

We need transparency, and a variety of options displaying the resulting savings should be voted on by the residents of the district. It is quite obvious that those whom should be looking at the overall well-being of our schools and our community are unwilling to make the sacrifices at the top that could get us through the mess our legislature has helped to create...

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bender 4 years, 2 months ago

It might not prevent all school closings, but there is clearly way too much administrative overhead in the district and cutting that needs to be the first step in any plan.

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hotrodlincoln1 4 years, 2 months ago

those people who think a 5 million dollar budget hole can be fixed by cutting administrative support are hoping that unicorns and pixiedust will arrive to make the oowie disappear. It is dreaming. And any reasonable person knows it.

It won't.

There are no good options. The school board didn't create this situation.

And those people who advocate only about the continued existence of all low enrollment schools are quite directly forcing the school board to fire more instructional teachers and support, increasing class sizes for all. Is that being fair to the other students?

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grammaddy 4 years, 2 months ago

Common sense has never been very common in our school board.

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rlsd 4 years, 2 months ago

PERFECT!!!!!! A great plan!!!! But alas they have already decided who will pay and this is all for show.....

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ashmole 4 years, 2 months ago

A great plan. I would prefer to see more cut from sports, but this looks sensible on the whole.

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Benjamin Roberts 4 years, 2 months ago

@ Freestater456 - Not easy; however, there are three guidance counselors at each High School also. The counselors could pick up some of the routine discipline and interaction. Principals would deal with the larger issues. Would counselors like this? Probably not. Would they like it better than unemployment? Probably yes. Is it better than closing schools and firing classroom teachers? Without a doubt.

The irritating part is that none of this is even being discussed by the School Board or the Administration. High Schools and Junior High Schools seem to be immune to budget cuts with the exception of custodians and clerical personnel.

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Freestater456 4 years, 2 months ago

Getting rid of the assistant principals at the high school? While I don't think it is out of the question, I honestly don't think it would work. There are simply too many kids for the prinicpal and an associate principal to handle. Maybe I'm wrong but that's just my opinion. I do agree that many administrative positions could be cut/merged though.

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oneeye_wilbur 4 years, 2 months ago

And do not forget where the money comes from. Right now, for example, Walmart on S. Iowa is paying approximately $190,000 a year into the school district and that amount barely pays TWO employees. 2 people!

There is no more money. This year, next year or the years thereafter. How many familial relationships are there in the district? Like, hubbies and wives, well, spouse and spouse or siblings. The school district is no different than the city and county in some ways. These governmental bodies cannot become the sole employer of everyone in the household.

The board will have to face the facts. Some of their cronies will get laid off, or better yet, I dont' have a problem with their keeping their job, just cut the pay. If they don't want to work for less, then they can quit. I am betting they don't quit.

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Benjamin Roberts 4 years, 2 months ago

@ sandersen - Thank you. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the School Board intends to follow a common sense approach. Worse yet, they are accepting the information that is being fed to them by Administrators. The Administrators are providing budget cuts that protect their own jobs at the expense of education and children.

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sandersen 4 years, 2 months ago

This makes too much (common) sense! This is a MUCH better alternative than decimating the long-term structure of our community by destroying neighborhoods built on the stability of the elementary schools we already paid for!

And just to address this in advance, my four youngest all attend a west-side elementary...

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kugrad 4 years, 2 months ago

Sounds good to me. Cut the fat.

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Benjamin Roberts 4 years, 2 months ago

@ katjok - Southwest Junior High and Sunflower Elementary are attached buildings; South JH and Broken Arrow are also attached buildings. Both Junior Highs have a principal and an assistant principal; the elementary schools have a principal. One position could be eliminated between the attached schools.

Sharing a principal could easily be accomplished in today's electronic environment. Cell phones, video conferencing, and instant messages make this quite practical. The five elementary schools could share principals by alternating duty days. There are many qualified personnel that can be left in charge with the principal only a phone call away. There are also many within the district office qualified to act as principals that could just as easily perform their duties off-site of the ESDC and serve as fill-in principals.

Yes, the devil is in the details. However, given the amount of highly educated administrators the district would still have - I am confident that they could manage. They just need to quit telling us that they are incapable of managing.

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alm77 4 years, 2 months ago

kat, the jr. high and elementary schools Did is talking about are already in the same building.

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katjok 4 years, 2 months ago

I agree that we should be cutting admin costs. But having a principal of an elementary school be the disciplinary for a junior high? So the elementary school principal is going to have to drive over to the junior high every time someone decides to cut class, or be disruptive? That doesn't seem effective. And sharing assistants & principals? I'm not sure how that is possible, perhaps you had a plan for that.

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