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News Section: Schools and Education

Superintendent Doesn’t Agree with Poor Administrative Cost Ranking

Published Tuesday, May 1, 2012 12:10 am

BRADENTON –School board staff issued a memorandum on Monday stating that the district didn’t agree with recent data released by the Florida Department of Education, which ranked the Manatee School District 42nd in the state by county in administrative expenditures per student.


According to the 2010-2011 data, administrative costs per student were $677. That’s approximately 10 percent of the average funding the district spent on each individual student. The memo said that figures varied among districts. While plans are in the works to reallocate positions, no savings are actually projected –the districts ranking will improve on reorganization alone.


“There should be some consistency in the reporting,” said board member Robert Gause, “Otherwise you are just pulling numbers to make things sound better or worse than they really are.”


The superintendent asked for an internal audit of the district’s annual cost report to review how the rankings were calculated. Currently it is up to the county to report what costs are considered administrative, and which are regarded at the school level. Board member Julie Aranibar said the county should be looking at state regulations to properly determine the proper allotments.


“My concern is, are we just pulling numbers out of a hat,” said board member Barbara Harvey. “It seem as though there should be a definition for a school-based employee and an administrative position.”


According to district reports, had Manatee County recounted certain variables differently, the district’s ranking would have been much better. For instance, Manatee reported 35 percent of curriculum development as an administrative cost, while Lake County only reported 7 percent. The district also reported 37 percent of their central services as administrative costs, while St. Lucie County only designated 5 percent. 22 percent of costs were for administrative technology, compared to 5 percent in Escambia County.


“Designating those three categories differently would have improved Manatee’s ranking from 42nd to 26th,” said Tim McGonegal, district superintendent. 


Recent reductions would also improve the ranking. Administrators making over $100,000 were reduced from 40 last year to 21 this year. Sarasota County has more than 53 administrators making over $100,000 according to the superintendent.


“This measure will bring administrative costs down, but people may look to Sarasota if they want a raise – we are in direct competition with them,” said McGonegal.  


One way the ranking could be improved in the future is to utilize teachers on assignment, or TOAs, in larger schools instead of assistant principals. Manatee County currently employs 26 assistant principals.


Sarasota uses TOA's, while Marion County employs deans instead of assistant principals. Both job titles do not count against their administrative costs. 


“A number of principals are retiring in the near future,” said McGonegal. “Doing away with assistant principals would inhibit the ability to promote from within  -- assistant principals eventually become principals.”


Harvey recommended promoting teachers to TOA's, then promoting them to principal. Aranibar agreed with the procedure, but wanted to make sure it was the principals who created the job description, based on the responsibilities of assistant principals.


“The benefit of a comprehensive job description is the employee will be prepared to take on the responsibilities of principal when they are promoted,” said board member Harry Kinnan. “That way, we are not moving away from the current model.”


One member of the public disagreed with doing away with assistant principals.


“State requirements mandate that merit pay be conducted by administration,” explained Jim Kaiser. “If you do away with the assistant principals, it puts a huge burden on the principals.”

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Our district has every year at the mandatory September meeting (as posted on your taxbill) to answer the public's questions, never answered anything. They haul out a power point created by Tim McGonagal and Jim Drake with the same data year after year. I believe that power point came about in 2003. They complain and tell us how unfair the State is to the local counties. That there is never enough money to do the job with. Let's just get a fair answer, what services are needed to provide our students with a quality education that makes them labor ready, qualified voters and if they have the ability, college ready?
Posted by Linda Neely on May 5, 2012

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