Archive for February, 2009

Setting the record straight on school spending for administration

February 8th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

Last Sunday’s Albany Times-Union carried a column by Caroline Mason, the retired head of the former Albany Academy and Albany Academy for Girls.  Ms. Mason’s column was filled with loose and inaccurate statements about the extent of school district spending on administration.

Today’s paper includes a response by our Executive Director, Tom Rogers:

Caroline Mason’s Feb. 1 Perspective article, “A lesson in school spending,” misled readers about the number of administrators in public schools.

Ms. Mason suggested reductions in “administrators and their myriad assistants” is the answer to school fiscal woes. Ms. Mason is entitled to her own opinions, but Times Union readers are entitled to facts.

Public schools are quite lean in the administrative ranks. On average, there is one manager for every 15.2 employees in school systems, one manager to 11.7 employees in health care, one to 6.5 in construction, one to 5.6 in manufacturing and one to 4.4 in other government services.

In schools outside of New York City, instructional expenses account for 77 percent of total school spending; operations, maintenance and transportation account for 12 percent; debt service is 6 percent; central administration and school board operations are scarcely 2 percent. A typical elementary school has dozens of people working as classroom and special subject teachers, aides, a librarian, a nurse and custodial and food service workers, most often managed by one administrator – the principal.

School leaders cut services to students only as a last resort. But the fact is that reducing school spending by $2.5 billion this year won’t occur without major sacrifices, whatever one’s opinions.

Thomas L. Rogers

Executive Director

NYS Council of School Superintendents

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Times’ editorial supports stimulus funds for schools

February 4th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

Today’s New York Times presents an editorial supporting federal stimulus funds for schools.

The Times endorses the House version of the education package over the Senate’s, chiefly because the House would place more restrictions on how states could use the funds.

The editorial explains that the package would direct $140 billion to schools and more than double the U.S. Education Department’s discretionary budget.

Our national affiliate, the American Association of School Administrators offers a summary.

Estimates from the Congressional Research Service indicate that the House plan could provide more than $3 billion in operating funds over each of the next two years to support schools and colleges in New York State,  Also, $1.2 billion would be provided for school construction, modernization, and repair.

New York State allocations under the Senate bill have not been published, but nationwide appropriations for specific programs are nearly identical, suggesting New York wiould realize a similar benefit.

Some of the additional funds would be restricted in their use, but most would be provided with the aim of enabling the state to maintain aid levels and to permit schools to avoid layoffs and program reductions.

leaders of the U.S. Senate acknowledged yesterday that they do not have the votes to pass the stimulus plan in its present form.  Some reductions and restructuring are likely.  But the final plan seems virtually certain to prioritize education funding.

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Schools spared in state mid-year deficit reduction plan

February 4th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

Yesterday, Governor Paterson and Legislative Leaders reached agreement on a plan to close the $1.6 billion deficit in the state’s budget for the current fiscal year, which ends on March 31.  Bills to implement the plan were then passed by both houses of the Legislature.

The only action in education is a $25,000 cut to a local project.

The Governor’s original 2008-09 deficit reduction plan released back in November would have imposed mid-year School Aid cuts totaling $800 million.  That plan was rejected by the Legislature and the Governor dropped proposals for mid-year School Aid cuts in the revised plan he submitted in December.

Some of the major actions included in the approved plan are an immediate increase in resident undergraduate tuition at the State University, postponing a STAR payment to new york City from December to June, increasing various assessmenst on the health care industry, and imposing tighter controls on some state agency spending.

State leaders will now focus their attention on negotiating a budget for the 2009-10 state fiscal year.  Approximately half the actions in the mid-year plan are expected to produce recurring savings, reducing the projected deficit for 2009-10 from $13.8 billion to $13 billion.

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