Biden Administration Sues a City Over “Rampant Overspending on Teacher Salaries”

Ira Still:

How much has Rochester been “overspending?” The website Seethroughny.com, a project of the Empire Center for Public Policy, lists 717 Rochester City School District Employees who earned more than $100,000 in 2019. The district has about 25,000 K-12 public school students, according to the state of New York. Spending runs about $20,000, a little below the statewide average. Whether that amounts to “overspending” probably depends on one’s view of how much the children are learning, and also one’s view of whether the students could learn more, and how much more, if more money were spent.

The teachers may point out that they earn less the SEC staff, who average more than $200,000 a year, according to the FederalPay.org, which tracks government pay. Though the SEC may counter that its lawyers can earn much more at corporate law firms, a consideration that may be less applicable to Rochester teachers.

In practice, the legal aspects of the case will probably turn more on considerations about disclosure to potential bond buyers than about the details of the spending on teacher salaries.

Even so, the mere mention of securities law and bondholders as potential tools to curb school district “overspending” is intriguing, especially when the action comes under a president who campaigned promising to increase school spending so as to pay teachers “competitive salaries.” For years, reformers have complained that teachers unions capture school boards and run school systems for the benefit of adults rather than children. Now a different set of influential adults—bondholders—is, in a way, asserting, via the SEC, its own claim that could be a countervailing force.

SEC Press Release.

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