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Bureaucrat Funding Myth Busting! - Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hear the Echoes No. 31



Bureaucrat Funding Myth Busting!

Listen to legislators talk, or to Chas Roemer in his campaign, and you just know that local school boards are spending excessive amounts in support of bureaucrats in central offices.  The fact is central office spending in Louisianaís 69 public school districts is only $613.74 per student.


            According to the administration budget letter submitted by the Louisiana Department of Education to the legislature, that amounts to 16.28% of per pupil expenditure.


            According to the latest National Center for Education Statistics, the number of district administrators is 350 (an average of 5 per district) ranking Louisiana 42nd in the nation.  Even if you desire to inflate the number by adding administration staffs of 40 per district, Louisiana still ranks in the bottom half of all states.


            The nine states that rank lower than Louisiana in number of central office administrators are Vermont, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, Hawaii, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.  Only Tennessee is close, in size or student population, to Louisiana.


            Louisiana law requires that 70% of school expense be in the classrooms.  However the department reports that the actual Louisiana classroom expenditure average is 83%.


            Per pupil central office expenditure is less than the per pupil expense of $705 to continue teacher pay raises guaranteed by the Legislature.  Central office expense amounts to 87% of the per pupil amount devoted to the teacher pay increase.


            Roemer levies a charge that central office bureaucrats are depriving classrooms of money needed in classrooms.  What he doesnít mention in his campaign commercials is the fact that he voted to pay former State Superintendent over $400,000, voted to pay current Recovery School District Superintendent John White over $250,000, and voted to allow those high-paid executives to hire 45 other state department staff who make more than $100,000 per year.


            When the current administration decided to withhold the 2.75% growth factor in the Minimum Foundation Plan, local districts were forced to make significant reductions in local district staffing and office expense.  The cuts in MFP coupled with the expense transferred to local districts for private school transportation and for stipends for nationally board certified teachers made it necessary for many local districts to terminate many classroom teachers.


            The 2011-12 school year budget letter approved by the legislature was based upon an additional 5,625 students being enrolled.  However, the Department of Education reported that the MFP appropriation is now estimated to be short of meeting local expenses by $1,083,358.


            Looking beyond those numbers, one also finds that the first year of operation for the two new virtual charter schools removes still more money from local school districts.  The Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LVCA) enrolled 1,100 students and each district in Louisiana was charged part of the total expense of $9,159,291 ($8,326 per student).  In all, 13 districts paid out in excess of $125,000 with Caddo putting out $415,503 to the LVCA.


            The Louisiana Connections Charter Academy in Baton Rouge drew $4,898,591 ($8,164 per student) for 600 enrolled students. 


            Gov. Jindalís office claims that it has increased the MFP by over six percent, however, that claim ignores the fact that the actual increase was but $45 per student for 2010-11. It also ignores that local school districts are now forced to pay both the state promised stipends to national board certified teachers and the private school bus transportation previously mentioned.


Don Whittinghill



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