Education Dollars That Shouldn’t Be Spent

This won’t win me any points with teachers and school administrators. But, I’m going to say it anyway: you’re awfully redundant.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is cutting $300 million from Indiana’s public school system. Frankly, I have a feeling there’s probably about half a billion dollars in waste across the state that could easily be found. Heck, I don’t doubt that $300 million could be cut from Lake County’s corrupt excuse for a government alone.

But, most of the state operates out of small, local schools. Like my Alma Mater down in Salem. Salem schools operates alongside two other schools in Washington County. East Washington Schools has 1,716 students. West Washington has 896 and Salem has the largest enrollment at 2,125. All together, there are just 4,373 students in all of Washington County.

There are 7 administrators in Salem’s system, 7 at East Washington and 3 at West Washington making 17 administrators. So, Salem has 7 administrators (principals, superintendents, etc.) and East Washington has 7. Yet, East Washington has about half as many students as Salem. And West Washington has about half as many students as East Washington and has 3. It should be noted that 3 is the lowest they’ve had since 1999. They had up to 5 in their hay day when they had 500 fewer students!

Clearly, something is wrong with this picture.

Let’s be conservative and say each of their superintendents makes $100,000 a year. Which, judging by the Star’s metro-area database, is rather conservative. $300,000 a year is made up of just three people. Add in principals, making say, $70,000 a year and you’ve racked up $700,000.

$1,000,000 a year in administrative salaries. That’s $229 per student in Washington County. I can assure you there probably isn’t even that much money spent annually in all of Washington County on food and water.

Don’t get me wrong. Schools need principals and superintendents. Yet, for reasons I can’t explain, Salem has two principals (not a principal and vice-principal, that’s TWO principals) for just grades K-5. They have a principal and vice-principal for grades 6-8 and ditto for 9-12.

Again, something is wrong with this.

Don’t even get me started on the number of assistants to the assistants and assistant assistants. Part of the need for all the assistants is to trudge reports and crap on to the state. Which, may or may not be useful, but much of this manual data-entry into crappy spreadsheets could be easily consolidated into automated systems that follow students rather than following schools. Get on that, IOT.

I’d go as far to argue that superintendents are redundant when you factor in school boards. It’s like having a Congress and a President. We see where that gets us.

Here’s a hallelujah idea:

  • Have 1 county superintendent
  • Push all administrative duties into one building in Salem. People in East and West Washington’s systems will say this is inconvenient, but it’s no different from having a county courthouse.
  • Close the other, now-empty, administrative buildings and sell ‘em.
  • I bet with all the consolidation, you can probably lose a couple support staffers through attrition. You don’t need 6 people to answer phones when you have two-thirds less phones.
  • Assistant principals can go away through attrition. I can assure you that existing staff and the principal can do the job of discipline and walking the halls during passing periods. Not that big of a deal.
  • Save $1.5 million annually.

Or, if you prefer, put half a million towards things people like. Like books. Or computers. Or teacher bonuses. Or heck, put it in savings and give the million back to the taxpayers.

One of these days I’ll get ambitious enough to research Warren Townships schools where I currently pay taxes to. I’m sure that’ll make me scream. I already loathe that they send everyone in this township a quarterly newsletter. And we’re not talking a piece of paper folded in half. It’s a full-scale publication with professional printing and mailing costs.

Maybe someday. For now, the Star has more to say.

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Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

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