Early 2005, School Board members received a spreadsheet that summarized administrative contracts from 1998-1999 through plans for 2005-2006. That spreadsheet showed 147 administrative contracts in the 1998-1999 school year and 149.65 administrative contracts planned for 2005-2006. In 2003-2004 the total administrative contract budget for wages and benefits was approximately $15.1 million ($100,000 average wage and benefit per administrative contract). This information differs from the information posted in a recent blog by Board President Carol Carstensen (15 central administrators vs. 10.8), and both these sets of numbers differ from what is reported to DPI.
I feel the School Board needs to consider definitions:
a) how are administrative personnel defined – activity, contract, b) how does the board want information about personnel who perform administrative tasks summarized and presented to them, c) what is the number of personnel doing various administrative tasks, d) how has this number and cost (wages and benefits) changed over time – over 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, e) how are these positions funded?
A bigger picture question, though, seems to me to be: what will happen to MMSD’s administrative functions if 5%, 10%, 20% are cut? The public in the $100 budget process zeroed in on cutting administration, which was no surprise to MMSD’s administration. However, telling us that “x” number of positions have been cut and will be cut does not give the type of information the public can use to understand what the loss is to the District’s ability to function and to support educational services. Further, recent board discussions were over a February deadline date to give extension of administrative contracts where MMSD administrators felt this was a firm date. If the date can be flexible, don’t Board members want to keep the flexibility? If the board does not do this, aren’t they giving the appearance to the Madison community that the School Board values administrators more than teachers? I don’t feel they do.
Clearly, an organization needs administrative functions to operate appropriately. I don’t think that’s the issue in anyone’s mind. It’s not for me anyway. I simply would like Madison’s School Board to have the flexibility to make the decisions the board feels are in the best interest of the school district when the time comes to make budget cuts.
The State of WI’s inability to address financing public education has put many school districts in the position of having to beg for funding via referendums and sadly for our children, this is not changing anytime soon. In the meantime, numbers need to be clear, consistent and understandable as do the risks and tradeoffs. I’d suggest starting with agreed upon definitions.