kitchen table math, the sequel: another year, another budget free-for-all

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

another year, another budget free-for-all

in Irvington

per pupil funding: $30k

superintendent compensation: $256k

district size: 1796 students

administrator to student ratio school year 1999-2000: 213.9 : 1

administrator to student ratio school year 2009-2010: 112.4 : 1

Time to re-litigate the curriculum director position.

And here's Andrew Cuomo on administrator compensation.


Catherine Johnson said...

Irvington has four librarians and four library clerks. Budget task force interviewed them to see where cuts might be made, and the librarians suggested a 15% cut in books.

Cuz the kids can go on the internet.

lgm said...

It's becoming interesting here too. The board is repeating the 'we have a contract' line whenever a member of the public states that the cuts are coming from the students instead of that staff sharing in the belt tightening and the admin finding more efficient ways of doing business. No surprise, since the union backed these candidates.

The super did state he would take the same freeze or cut as the teacher's union, should such a decision be made.

Anonymous said...

$30k per student? In California?

Our district had a $55.7 million budget this year for 4864 students, which comes to under $11,500 a student.

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm in Westchester County.

I think we have the highest per pupil funding in the country.

Catherine Johnson said...

lgm - so your teachers & administrators live in town?

lgm said...

Some do, some don't..mostly depends on where they want their own children to go to school or if they have restrictions on what county they can live in due to the spouse's employment. Most of the nonteaching staff lives within the district.

Jo in OKC said...

Wow. Here's the stats from our local suburban district's web page:

Financial Facts
District estimated General Fund Budget: $136,046,899, Building Fund $5,012,329 and Child Nutrition Fund $7,779,000
Budgeted per pupil expenditure: $6,122.00

Employees (Approximate numbers as of January, 2010)
Total: 2,328
Certified teachers and administrators: 1,410
Support personnel: 918
Certified staff has an average of 13 years experience with more than 500 advanced degrees.
Student to teacher ratio is 18 to one.
Average teacher compensation: $42,141.84

Enrollment (As of January 11, 2010)
Elementary: 12,387 (pre-k - 6th)
Junior High: 3,243 (7th-8th)
High School: 5,876 (9th-12th)
Total: 21,506

lgm said...

LOL, sorry about grammar 800 here!

Lisa said...

Had to look. Our county wide school district spends $8221 per pupil. District spends 60% of budget on instruction, 34% on support services and 5% on other expenditures. Student population was 5,985 students in 2009. Forty -eight percent of students receive free lunch. All that said they got rid of librarians last year in favor of parents/teachers/aides staffing the library.

Catherine Johnson said...

I think we're at something like 75% of spending on compensation.

One parent here says we have $8 million in deferred maintenance. I have no idea whether he's right, but he could be. I'm sure we have LOTS of deferred maintenance, but define 'lots.'

Our average total compensation (including benefits - not sure if this includes stipends) is around $100K.

The district has been giving far-above-inflation raises for years now - possibly for decades.

Now the union contract has expired and negotiations are at impasse, and under the Triborough amendment we must continue to give the far-above-inflation raises negotiated before the crash.

It's mind-boggling.

Dee Hodson said...

Very interesting thread. Correct me if I am wrong (lyn, you probably know) but I am pretty sure that captial expenditures (buildings) are not included in these per student numbers- those expenses get booked on the town side of the budget.
So if schools ran their books like most businesses and had to include rent or mortgage- our per pupil expenditures may start to look a lot higher.
Dee in Monroe

Catherine Johnson said...

Hi Dee!


I've been talking to a parent here who will probably be starting a transparency website....she is an attorney who works in finance, and one thing she would like to do is establish a set of standardized accounting units (if that's the right term) for education spending.

She said it's impossible to know how much per pupil any program costs.

What is the cost per pupil of an AP course, for instance?

What is the cost per pupil of a balanced literacy curriculum as opposed to a synthetic phonics curriculum?

CassyT said...


PPR for my school:
2008-2009 $6400
2009-2010 $6740
2010-2011 $6327 (down 6.68%
2011-2012 $5882 (projected down another 7%.03)

School size: 849 students.

PPR accounts for 94% of revenues

Instructional salaries account for 61% of spending.

So, revenues go down, where do we get the money to keep amazing teachers? And we've got amazing teachers, with very low turnover.

PPR in Wyoming, (an easy 30 minute drive on the freeway) is over $12k.

I may have picked a challenging year to become a board member.

Catherine Johnson said...

Are you on the board???!!!


You didn't tell me!

Catherine Johnson said...

I talked to Jim (our board member), who says that he thinks the union prez was serious about making some kind of adjustment.

That seems awfully unlikely to me --- BUT it's not crazy.

Apparently Jim pointed out that we're chronically cutting from the $15 million that represents everything but compensation while continuing to increase the $35 million compensation 'slice' of the pie.

That way of putting it apparently affected people ---- especially when he pointed out that a $1.6 million cut to the $15 million slice is a lot bigger and more painful than the same cut out of $35 million.

Bottom line: we've had very large annual above-inflation increases in compensation for years and years and years -- and now we're in trouble.

Compensation needs to be scaled back.

Catherine Johnson said...

2011-2012 $5882

And we're at $30K.

It's crazy, and it doesn't work.

CassyT said...

Are you on the boardIt's true. I'm officially a School Board Member.

Well, I was the only person to step up and want to BE on the board. I also attend the Financial Advisory Committee meetings each month to wrap my head around the finances.

And we're at $30K. It's crazy, and it doesn't work.

Well, we have some of the top CO standardized test scores in the district, so it CAN be done on $6740.

If we can keep our teachers.

Average k-6 teacher salary: 38k
Average 7-10 teacher salary:41k.

lgm said...

For 2007-8 (the data published with last year's line item budget here) NY Public Schools spent an average of $10,257 on gen ed instruction and $24,479 on special ed. 2,723,955 gen ed students and 410,099 special education students.
My district was about 2K under for gen ed and similar for sped.

Catherine, do you know what the official duties of the school tax collector are? I was a little surprised at the price $75K salary it seems quite a bit. I know the town doesn't spend that much when it collects property tax but perhaps there is more work to it for the school district.

The most interesting thing I've heard so far is that if the proposed budget is less than the contingency cap on the current budget, then the proposed budget is the contingency budget. That seems to mean our budget increase will be 8%.

I did notice that the amount of STAR exemptions is tremendous. Perhaps some of these should be changed. Apparently, a 65+ year old can get a 50% school tax reduction if he is under the income limit of $500K/year?? I think I'm being pickpocketed by a special interest group here.

Catherine Johnson said...

Well, we have some of the top CO standardized test scores in the district, so it CAN be done on $6740.

Who would have thought?

What is total compensation?

Around here, we're insisting that the figure given should be total compensation.

Not that anyone is going to listen to us -- but times are changing.

I met a guy the other night who explained to me how to FOIL total compensation.

It's line 5 on the W2 forms.

Catherine Johnson said...

wow ---- STAR is at that level?

I had no idea.

But I thought they were getting rid of STAR, no?

Or phasing it out?

Catherine Johnson said...

The contingency budget issue is extremely confusing - and seems to be used dishonestly by districts at times.

Typically, the public gets the message that if they don't pass the proposed budget, the contingency budget will be higher.

As I recall, that's not the way it works.

I'll try to dig up the sources I used to understand contingency budgets.

I'm thinking a contingency budget can't be an 8% increase, but obviously I could be wrong.

Catherine Johnson said...

OK, quick look at one of my docs...says that there is a 4% cap on increase in any contingency budget (assuming I'm reading it correctly, which I think I am).

Will keep looking.

Catherine Johnson said...

from the Chappaqua website:

Q. How does the contingency budget work if the budget is voted down?

Based on NYS Education Law, the contingency budget adopted by the Board of Education is always less than the proposed budget because certain non-contingency appropriations must be removed from the proposed budget. Some of the non-contingency appropriations are: student supplies, certain equipment purchases, community use of buildings and grounds and certain salary increases.

Catherine Johnson said...

Here's the state's explanation:

contingency budgets

And here's the union explanation.

Catherine Johnson said...

Contingency budget is going to be low, I think, since it can't be more than 120% of inflation.

Inflation last year was very, very low.

School districts that operate under a contingency budget in the 2009-10 school year will have their spending increase capped at 4.00 percent over last year's budget. According to the law, the contingency budget cap is equal to the lesser of 120% of the calendar year average CPI increase or 4.00 percent. The average increase in the CPI for 2008 was 3.8 percent, and multiplying 3.8 percent by 120 percent equals 4.56 percent. Therefore, because the law defines the contingency budget cap as the lesser of 4 percent or 120 percent multiplied by the CPI increase, the contingency budget cap for the 2009-10 school year will be 4.00 percent.


Tax certs are exempt from the cap, and we've got beaucoup tax certs.

Catherine Johnson said...

Also from NYSUT:

An analysis conducted by NYSUT Research and Educational Services of the 28 districts that adopted a contingency budget in 2008-09 found that, in total, there was a $15.9 million difference between the budgets that were first presented to the voters on May 20, 2008 and the contingency budgets that were adopted by the board of education. This means that as a result of the contingency budget law, these 28 districts were forced to make $15.9 million in cuts to education spending from their initial proposed budget to the voters.

lgm said...

I think the 8% would be the increase in the locally funded portion. The total budget wouldn't go up that much.

STAR I need to understand more. The total amount is listed in the line item budget; it's tremendous.

Catherine Johnson said...


we get practically no funding from the state

Let us know what you learn about STAR

I'm 99% certain it's going down by a LOT