One person told me that he feels the district is very hard pressed to get anything done because they have cut so much administrative staff, perhaps too much.
Another person said to me, at one of the recent budget forums, "What do all these administrators do?" [There were an awful lot of administrators at the budget forums. I assume they had been directed to be there.]
I don't know this for sure, but I think that the second commenter's opinion is more common in the district, and of course, I've been curious myself as to whether the district had actually cut a lot of administrative staff.
So, back in the summer, I asked the Ann Arbor school district for information on administrative staffing during the 2005-2006 year and the 2010-2011 school year. It was my first ever FOIA request! (And it really wasn't that hard to submit--thanks Ed Vielmetti for all those FOIA Friday posts.)
The reason that I picked 2005-2006 as my baseline was that I had heard that it was the year that the district got the most per-pupil funding. (Not true, as it turns out--that was 2008-2009.) It also gave me a five-year span to compare.
In 2005-2006, per-pupil funding was $9,409;
in 2008-2009 per-pupil funding was $9,723;
and in 2010-2011 per-pupil funding was $9,490.
But per-pupil funding has fallen to $9,020 in 2011-2012, which brings us back to 2001-2002 in actual dollars (not taking into account inflation).
Anyway, I digress. I asked for information about administrative salaries during 2005-2006 and 2010-2011--everything from the assistant principal level on up. As you shall see, I might have asked for the wrong thing. It's still interesting data, though! What I got was the district's "Cabinet" (Superintendent plus top administrators), all the principals and assistant principals, and the athletic directors--who are considered to be at an assistant principal level.
By using 2010-2011 instead of 2011-2012 I got actual staffing expenses rather than budgeted expenses. I also have the (lower) Superintendent's salary of 2010-2011.
In 2005-2006, the district had 20 elementary schools, 1 K-8 school, 5 middle schools, and 5 high schools. Five years later, the district has the same configuration, except that now Skyline High School has been built and has three of its grades. And based on my notes below (which I put into a table for you), it doesn't seem like very much administration has been cut at all. But that might be due to me asking for the "wrong" things.
First of all, it's hard to compare the Cabinet. Each superintendent decides who should be in the cabinet, and the cabinet has been significantly reconfigured. For example, currently there is a Director of Physical Properties in the cabinet--that is Randy Trent. His position was made cabinet level after two lower-level positions (of which he had one) were combined into one position following someone's retirement. In 2005 there was nobody from special education services in the cabinet, and now there is--which is definitely a good thing for special education services. In 2005, I believe that all legal work was done on contract. Now we have a legal voice (David Comsa) in the cabinet. All cabinet positions are non-union.
But--why do the cabinet level position pay increases exceed the increases of the unionized administrative staff? That seems wrong. And I believe that the district just filled at least two fairly high-level administrative positions. I wonder how their pay compares.
Second of all, I only asked for the positions of assistant principals on up.
There were, I believe, several positions in administration cut, but they were obviously at levels below what I requested in my FOIA request. At the levels I requested, it doesn't look like there has been very much administrative cutting at all. It does look like the raises--below the cabinet level--have been reasonable (and at a rate less than inflation).
What happens when one gets raises at a rate less than inflation is that one constantly feels like one is getting cut. While this is true in terms of adjusted dollars, in terms of actual dollars it is not a true cut. The same thing is happening with principals, in a different way. I know that Pioneer and Huron *feel* like they have lost a lot of asst. principal positions. Really, those positions have gotten transferred to Skyline, and the ratio of principals to high school students at the big schools is fairly stable.
In this data, it is also possible to see some areas where there could--and probably should--be changes.
1. Skyline has an athletic coordinator and not an athletic director (therefore, he doesn't show up on this chart) because I was told that the plan is that, after one of the other ADs retires there will only be one AD and two athletic coordinators. Here's how I think about it. The Athletic Directors are at the level of Asst. Principals, and every year there are asst. principal positions open. Why not move one of the ADs into an assistant principal position now and replace her or him with a lower-level athletic coordinator? Why wait until someone decides to retire? If we only need one athletic director, why wait?
2. Should a couple of schools be closed? Candidates that would come to mind to me: Pittsfield (size--disperse the school. Downside: it does draw a huge number of kids from the neighborhood); Mitchell (make Scarlett a K-8); Scarlett (without Mitchell--disperse the school to the other middle schools); Ann Arbor Technical School.
3. Could assistant principals be only part-time principals and work in the classroom?
4. Now that the comprehensive high schools are so much smaller, do we need as many assistant principals as we have? Could we live with one principal and only one or two assistant principals at these schools?
5. Does the preschool need a full-time principal?
Number of Students
Down 327 students
The preschool nearly doubled in size from 95 to 162 but that doesn’t show up in this per-pupil funding count. It does, however, have separate funding. Both times, Pittsfield is the smallest elementary school and Scarlett is the smallest middle school.
That increase does not cover inflation
Number of Cabinet Level Staff
The Superintendent chooses who should be in the cabinet. All these positions are non-union.
High School Principals
Huron, Pioneer, Community, Clemente, Stone, and then Skyline
High School Asst. Principals
In 2010-2011, Huron had an asst. principal who retired partway through the year and wasn’t replaced. Both counts include Athletic Directors at Huron and Pioneer. Skyline has only an Athletic Coordinator.
Middle School Principals
Middle School Assistant Principals
See elementary school notes
Preschool, Elementary, K-8 Principals
In 2010, the Mitchell principal was pulled out of the school to organize the Mitchell/Scarlett K-8 program for a year and is still counted in this count.
Pay Range for Assistant Principals
+5% to 6% over 5 years
I think in 2005-2006 one asst. principal was getting a principal’s salary based on past service.
Pay Range for Principals
+2% to 6% over 5 years
2005-2006 Comprehensive HS principals: $120,470
2010-2011 Comprehensive HS principals: $127,840
Pay Range for Cabinet
Increases up to 12% for staff who were in the cabinet at both times.
*Excludes Director of Communications who sits on cabinet but is paid significantly lower rate.
(Roberts, then Allen)
Roberts left part way through the year and the interim supt. was paid the same rate. 2011-2012 Supt. Green’s salary is about $245,000. Compared to 2005-2006, that is an increase of 70%.