Sunday, May 22, 2011

You're Not Gonna Believe This!

Are you sitting down?
Calm? Cool? Collected?
OK...then we can tell you...
Our administrators are underpaid.

That's right.  You heard it here, on SP-EYE. Unlike the district, that spins things only one way and shares only the information that makes them look good, we offer you the facts.  Sometimes the facts support our contentions...and sometimes they don't.

We looked at DPI Administrative Salary data for 2010-11.  We focused on the 20 school districts closest in size to Sun Prairie.  And we found that if you gasp for breath every time you read about administrator pay in Sun Prairie, you should be thankful we're not like other districts our size.

Of course, there are at least a few bleeding heart school board members that will leap upon this opportunity to pay our administrators more.  In fact, the board is in negotiations now to give administrators as much as a 2% increase in salary.
Do we need to follow a new leader?

Pause, Take  a Deep Breath...and Stop the Insanity!
What are we?  Lemmings?  Just because Acme School district wants to pay its administrators ridiculous wages, do we need to follow suit?  Who REALLY makes $100K plus in this society?  The average US physician earns about $140K.  The average dentist earns $102K.  The average engineer earns about $75K. (Source:  Sure, school district administrators have some responsibility.  But more than an engineer? dentist? doctor?  After all....these folks aren't TEACHING our kids.  So let's not use that rationale.

A review of the 2010 Census shows that only 8% of US households earn more than $125,000.  8%!  Do school administrators REALLY belong in the top 8% of all wage earners?  There's something wrong with this picture!  Hopefully our school board will give some consideration to this before casting their votes when the Administrator contracts come up in the very near future. New data shows that the median household income in 2009 was $50,221 which is down from $52,029 in 2008.  This drop of 3.6 percent comes at a time when many U.S. households are struggling to make payments on mortgages.   Really? The median household income is $50,000 and we pay school administrators DOUBLE or TRIPLE that?
Download a file of WI school 
district administrator compensation
Is Common Sense Really Dead?
The tide may finally be turning.  In these tight times, people are starting to wake up and pay attention.  The governor of New York is currently proposing legislation which would establish a tier system )based on enrollment) under which school district administrator (superintendent) salaries would be capped.  Currently, one-third of district administrators in New York earn over $175,000.  The 6th (top) tier, under which Sun Prairie would fall, would limit compensation to $175,000.  And that's New York, people!  As in the New York whose cost of living far exceeds ours.  Interestingly enough, the district administrator from New Berlin, WI is currently in negotiations to be district administrator in New York.  He was compensated over $200K last year.  How will this affect him? Read the article below.

District's pick for superintendent has sixth-highest education salary in Wisconsin

Is our Administration over-staffed?
Nobody wants to discuss the 800 lb gorilla in the room, but eventually those discussions must occur before the gorilla overtakes us.  Two aspects of administrative costs stuck out like a sore thumb when we looked at the 20 similar-sized districts.

First, Sun Prairie happens to have the most amount of administrators dedicated to Special Education. Kids with special need are an important part of our district, but let's face the facts, these administrators aren't typically working one-on-one with these kids.  That responsibility falls on Local 60 staffers largely earning less than $15/hour.   But lets toss in another fact that may make you pause to think.  We also looked at the DPI data for the numbers and percentage of enrollment comprised by special needs kids.  While Sun Prairie may have the highest number of Special Ed. administrators, we have the second LOWEST percentage of special need s kids in districts our size.   We'll take "Things That Make You Go, 'Hmmmm' for $500, Alex".

Top Heavy? (and not in a good way)
Second.  If we look at the ratio of principals to assistant principals in the district, we also stick out like a sore thumb in comparison to similar-sized districts.  Remember when the board voted on a heated split-vote to spend the money to hire an additional assistant principal at the high school?  Maybe if the board had looked at these hard facts, they would have given more though to that move.  After all, aren't we supposed to be a district that bases its decisions on data?   Are we looking at the wrong (or censored) data?  Or just not looking at the data at all?

Wrapping it All Up
So...are our administrators under paid?  Or is it better a question of : are our administrators simply not as excessively paid as other in similar sized school districts?  As we have to tighten our budgetary belts, it is this where we need to focus our attention...not on the teachers in the classrooms.