Thursday, September 13, 2012

High Cost of Education

ARPS administration costs last year: 60% over state average

Amherst schools consume the lion's share of town tax money with the vast majority of that funding labor costs.  The Region's salary database shown below does not include paras, clerical or AFSCME staff members, all of whom are paid hourly.  The salaries shown also do not include associated costs of employee benefits.

With Amherst officials on a head long rush to regionalize with our Hilltown partners all the way down to kindergarten (currently only the high school and middle school are in the region) the key question for Amherst taxpayers is, will this lower our education system's high average cost per student, or drive it even higher?

And the corresponding key question for the Hilltowns is, will giving up your autonomy also increase your current cost to educate children in your stand alone current system.

 2011
Amherst Elementary Schools Average cost per student $17,116 vs state average $13,361. Admin cost per student $735 vs state average $447

Leverett Elementary School: Average cost per student $15,382 vs state average $13,361. Admin cost per student $710 vs state average $447

Pelham Elementary School: Average cost per student $14,926 vs state average $13,361 Admin cost per student $478 vs state average $447

Shutesbury Elementary School: Average cost per student $15,612 vs state average $13,361. Admin cost per student $767 vs state average $447


ARPSPayInformationFY13_9-12

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Larry said: With Amherst officials on a head long rush to regionalize with our Hilltown partners all the way down to kindergarten ...

To say that Amherst officials are on a head long rush to regionalize is proof that you have not been paying a bit of attention to what is actually going on. The process has been and continues to be a very slow deliberative process. At the end of the process the committee will make a recommendation, which the Town of Amherst can then vote to accept or not accept. Really, Larry, if you want to put yourself out there as some kind of legitimate journalist you really need to do your homework before making such an outlandish comment.

LarryK said...

I would take your opinion a little more to heart if you left a name.

Two days ago I bumped into a member of our Finance Committee who was concerned it would be voted on prior to being ready for prime time, so to speak.

Dr. Ed said...

The scary thing is that I have two more degrees than Maria G and I wouldn't consider myself to be qualified to be Superintendent of that district -- and in Maine, she wouldn't be permitted to be.

In Maine, she would be required to have actually been a building principal for 5 years first -- and she couldn't have done that before she had been a classroom teacher for 5 years -- and I don't believe she actually was either. Ever.

We both have a MEd and CAGS from the UMass School of Education. Unlike her, I am also certified in both Social Studies and English and have taught in an actual classroom -- her entire experience has been in SPED.

And unlike her, I have a doctorate - in curriculum. She does not. And I don't claim competence to be superintendent of that district....

She is the only superintendent I am aware of, of any size district, that does not have an Ed D. People in Boston roll their eyes when I mention her and Amherst -- it may only be a piece of paper on the wall, but everyone else has got one.

And then we find out that the admin costs are way above the state average. Hmmm.....

Can't blame drunken UMass students for this one Larry....

Anonymous said...

The committee may vote one way or another - but it is the voters of the Town of Amherst who will make the uptimate decision of whether to regionalize - and also Pelham, Shutesbury and Leverett.

And your old saw about anons is really growing very old...you don't care a whit about anons posting comments if you agree with them. But woe to the anon who does not agree - the wrath of khan is rained down upon them. It really is very old, Larry.

LarryK said...

I notice you do not address the main point of my post. That too, grows old.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ed.,

You may have two more degrees but you have absolutely no work world experience. Nada, zip, zero. Hence the difference.

Anonymous said...

Salaries look pretty reasonable to me.

Anonymous said...

Anyone that uses the title Dr. out in public and is not a physician is a pompous fool.

LarryK said...

Yes Anon 2:12, and for all we know you are one of the higher salaried individuals in the schools.

So how do you explain the administration costs being 60% over state average? Can't blame the teachers for that.

Although ... ARPS teachers are pretty much state average for salary, the glaring difference is a student/teacher ratio of 13.9 to 1 vs state average of 10-1.

Anonymous said...

Larry,

Can't disagree on the high cost of administrators. Don't forget the SPED and ELL teachers they are doing quite well too. Lots of teachers over 70K who work 9 months out of the year. I should have gone this route years ago and tried to get hired in Amherst. How good life would be.

Also the student teacher ratio in 2011 was 11.9 to 1 Amherst 13.9 to 1 state.

Anonymous said...

The info is great, but almost no one seems to care anymore and the resource sucking education machine chugs on.

LarryK said...

Anon 3:23 (the smart one):

I was looking at the elementary schools where it's 10-1 Amherst vs state average 13.9 to 1 (although I originally reversed the numbers).

Yes, at the Regional level it is indeed 11.9 Amherst vs 13.9 state.

Either way, kind of a major difference between Amherst and the state average for student/teacher ratios, although not as dramatic as the difference in $ spent on administrators.

Interestingly the Regional School Committee appointed a committee a couple months ago to look into Amherst's high cost per student average compared to state average.

I think we just solved it for them.

Dr. Ed said...

An interesting aside on student/teacher ratio -- nationally it is 15.4 *now* and was 22.3 back in 1970, and the question I ask is if our educational system is any better than it was in 1970?

Remember that these are ED figures which means that we can presume accuracy:

http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=28

For public schools, the number of pupils per FTE teacher—that is, the pupil/teacher ratio—declined from 22.3 in 1970 to 17.9 in 1985. After 1985, the public school pupil/teacher ratio continued to decline, reaching 17.2 in 1989. After a period of relative stability during the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, the ratio declined from 17.3 in 1995 to 16.0 in 2000. Decreases have continued since then, and the public school pupil/teacher ratio was 15.4 in 2009. By comparison, the pupil/teacher ratio for private schools was estimated at 12.5 in 2009. The average class size in 2007–08 was 20.0 pupils for public elementary schools and 23.4 pupils for public secondary schools.

Howard Mann said...

Remember Larry, the administration costs so much because [i]it's for the kids.[/i]

Rebecca said...

Shutesbury and Leverett are not autonomous with their elementary schools. They are part of Union 28 or Union 38, I always forget. Anyway they are with New Salem, Erving, and maybe Wendell. They have their own elementary schools so I'm not sure what they actually share but there is some kind of collaboration there.
As a Shutesbury resident with a daughter in Kindergarten I have been watching Maria with interest. Seems like she wants to fix things that don't need fixing (like changing the school start times). I have also heard that she wants Pelham, Leverett, and Shutesbury to send the 6th graders to the middle school. In my mind it's just a ploy to try to get more of our money. I'd like to keep my little girl in school in Shutesbury for as long as I can thank you. I'm totally opposed to sending the 6th graders or any of the younger grades to Amherst. Shutesbury has a fine elementary school. No reason to give that up.

Anonymous said...

If we regionalize some money could be saved if the Central office staff did not increase in size and did not ask for more money for overseeing more schools. Does not seem likely but if it was it could save money.

The teachers make $9K to $10K less per year on average in shutesbury and leverett. There seem to be 10 to 12 teachers in each that I am guessing might get a bump when folded into the Amherst regional agreement. So if the aforementioned central office staff did not take an increase then maybe someone would save a little on overall salaries.

If anyone wants what I am smoking let me know.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca,

I hear that Shutesbury rep, Michael DeChiara, is one of the people pushing hard for regionalization. You should tell him your concerns. He thinks Maria is doing a great job and would likely back any of her initiatives.

Anonymous said...

We have a K-8 math science curriculum coordinator making 80K a year, Pg 72. What does this person do and why were they not involved in the useless math discussions over the last 5 years. There is no definitive science curriculum in K-6 and investigations ruled the day until this year. This looks like a huge waste of resources, must be someone's relative. Maria needs to let that person go, they are redundant.

Anonymous said...

This push to regionalize was initialized by Leverett and Shutesbury, not Amherst, and the main reason for this push has more to do with the fact that Leverett & Shutesbury can't stand their superintendent, less to do with educational and/or financial reasons. We've tried mightily to get her (the Union 28 super) out, but darn, she just won't go. I guess it boils down to "if she won't go, we will."

Anonymous said...

Reasonable people indeed disagree on whether 6th grade should be moved to the middle school. Someone advocating for a position other than yours/ Rebecca, does not make them a bad person. It does not mean Maria is trying to "fix something that doesn't need fixing." As far as late start time, again reasonable people can be found on either side of the argument. There is, however, much research that shows that a later start time for high schoolers results in better outcomes for them. Northampton is having the same discussion as we and trying to come up with a system that will work. Again, this is not Maria trying to fix something that does not need fixing. As a matter of fact, there is a large contingent of families who feel VERY strongly that they want the start times changed. Many members of the school committee also support the change.

Anonymous said...

Central office will never get over itself. It’s work is far too important. As Kelley, and anyone else who has been around for at least 20 years knows, this has been going on for a while but has only gotten worse over time. When Central office found that the state had piled more work on its plate with the new teacher evaluation plan, rather than realizing someone/s already working in central office would now have more work to do, they hired another $100,000.00 a year employee. That cost the district two teachers jobs, for that same $100k could have been used to hire two more teachers, if the district was planning on spending another $100k, which by the way was not in the budget proposal last year.
How many jobs in the district were cut last year? Which ones? How are those cuts effecting those schools?
If someone at the lower end of the food chain in the schools has a job cut, for example, secretaries, custodians, teachers, then the other secretaries, custodians and teachers are told to buck up and do more work.
When the central office is looking at more work to be done, they go out and hire another of the most expensive employees in the district. Why? Oh yeah, the work they do in central office is far too important to the district, way more important than anyone else, whose job, by the way, is a lot closer to actually effecting the students.
Not sure why this surprises me. It’s the same model our bloated government uses. They make laws that everyone but them has to obey. Apparently the budget applies to everyone in the district except the superintendent and all of the rest of the really important players in central office.

Dr. Ed said...

My point is perhaps better made by Jeff Jacoby but essentially if an academic community such as Amherst doesn't care if its Superintendent has a doctorate, if the UM School of Education (who are Maria G's primary base of support) don't care about her lack of a doctorate, then what does it say about the inherent value of the doctorate?

Or of a college education in general? And what does that mean to the future of Amherst?

An interesting question, isn't it?

Jacoby: http://townhall.com/columnists/jeffjacoby/2012/09/12/the_highered_bubble_is_bound_to_burst

Anonymous said...

The math/science coordinator was JUST hired to address the issus you bring up, Anon 8:45.

Anonymous said...

Based on how qualified you are for any job in the real world "Dr" Ed, it is clear to me that a doctorate does not automatically confer on anyone the ability to do a job. Neither does a lack of one automatically make someone not qualified to do a job. Maria Geryk has done more in her not quite two years as Super than "Dr" Jere Hochman did in his several years here. And for much less money.

Anonymous said...

anon@315: wasn't Maria made permanent Sup more than 2 ago? Spring/Summer 2010? My question isn't a criticism but asking for clarification. In addition, Maria was Superintendent, albeit interim for at least an addition year (total), right? Although you can argue she couldn't put in place new potentially progressive and innovative programs, that doesn't mean that her leadership while interim has had no impact. She hired Principal Hayes while interim and now he has decided its too much work so he needs time off. What gives with that? There has got to be more behind it. I hear that the MS atmosphere seems improved with the new interim Principal Dinger. If parents and students feel that way they should let Ms. Geryk and the ARPS school committee know...

Anonymous said...

Geryk is not making "much less money" than Hochman made. They are both making a hell of a lot more than Sayer made.

Anonymous said...

Sayer worked as Super many years ago - inflation makes people's salaries go up for the same work. I'm not sure what his past salary would equal in today's dollars.

And yes, Maria Geryk is making much less than Hochman commanded and she is getting more done that he ever dreamed of doing.

LarryK said...

Jere came in @ $135k. I remember because I made an issue of it. But then he skipped raises so when he left five years ago he was only in the $137k range.

Anonymous said...

Didn' he leave to take a job in the over $150K range? I don't remember the exact number I just remember thinking what a lucky guy - he just got a huge raise? I also remember thinking why would anyone pay him that much as I did not think he did much of anything while here in Amherst. His administration is where the downturn in quality education began.

LarryK said...

Actually I think it was 3 or 4 times that amount. And Jere and I butted heads pretty severely over "Vagina Monologues" ( which garnered more national publicity than the recent commemorative 9/11 flag disgrace). But he stood up for the flags six years ago, so he's pretty okay in my book.

He also spearheaded security improvements in the schools--something badly needed at the time.

Anonymous said...

Because M.Hayes hasn't actually resigned as principal and is still receiving a salary, I think the public has a right to know whether he is coming back or not. If the plan is he is NOT coming back then we should begin the process now to find a replacement. If the rumor of anon@506 is true, then we're being truly fooled (by Ms. Geryk et al).

Anyone have any real info on the mysteriously 'leaved' Hayes??

Anonymous said...

But what did Hochman do to improve our children's education. Maria Geryk has further improved the security in our schools but all you do is bash her Larry. Another example of your double standard. Surprise surprise.

Anonymous said...

I am anon 506 and my post has nothing to do with Mike Hayes. Mike is on leave for a year. He is not getting his full salary. There are no rumors and there is nothing at all mysterious about it.

Anonymous said...

anon 2:43,

If we just hired this new math science coordinator, why are we paying Rhonda C. who by all accounts seems to be doing a good job for $120K. This means we have 200K in curriculum work being done? I know we need real curriculum but this looks like it is headed in the wrong financial direction.

for the guy who asked Mike Hayes and wife had a new baby about a year ago. I believe his wife took a year off and now he is. He is coming back.

I believe Larry is right that Hochman went out making $137K and I think his new job in Westchester? started him at $256K, must be nice.

Anonymous said...

The best way to describe the administration in the schools here is "Egos Unleashed". We pulled our kids out of the Amherst School system after disastrous years in the elementary school; put them in private schools; never ever regretted it. Best move we ever did.

Anonymous said...

The attachment on this post shows that there are a lot of well paid people in the Amherst schools, esepcially was pointed out earlier, since many school employees only work 9-10 months a year.

I remember hearing a figure before about how many employees in the Amherst schools make $100K or more, and how the number in that salary range here was much more than in Northampton. With the recent administration hires, this disparity seems to be growing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:01

And growing and growing and growing. Our schools seem to have an insatiable appetite for money, lot of money with no accountability with our rubber stamp school committee.

Our schools remind me of many large corporation that got bloated and fat and used there reputation to continue success rather than creativity and true market leadership. IBM, GM, Sears, etc.

Don't know when their day will come, probably not from people like me posting on this blog. It will come though. You can't rest on reputation and fluff piece in print forever.

Dr. Ed said...

Education is becoming more of a guild and less of a profession -- the mere fact that we are doing it means that we are both doing it right and the appropriate people to determine how it should be done.

Hence it is like the electricians who license their own.

But if we had an epidemic of buildings burning down from bad wiring and were paying twice the price for electricians that we were two decades ago (statewide, we have doubled K-12 money since 1990), and the response of the electricians was "just give us more money", there would be a revolt.

If the Military said "we are the only ones with the training and ability to discuss foreign policy" -- well how would that play in Amherst? If the folks running the Vernon Nuke Plant were to say that they are the only ones qualified to discuss safety issues, again, how would that play in Amherst?

Gilford Mooning is a licensed engineer (unlike Maria G, he has the degree) and he has been doing his job longer than she has been doing hers. But I don't seem to remember that stopping people from asking quite pointed "questions" (!) at the discussion of the wind farm a while back.

So why do teachers deserve special privileges? How are they different from people safeguarding our national defense, or running nuke plants or whatnot? Why is Maria G exempt from being treated the way that Gilford was -- or why was it appropriate to treat him that way when you would NEVER treat anyone associated with the schools that way?

Tom McBride said...

If Amherst had an income tax we'd easily be able to pay for this. Some dude with a $400,000 family income puts five of his children in Amherst schools, pounds on the table for better schools, pays only nominally more than a retired person on a fixed income because taxes are based on property, yet somehow shows up at all the school committee meetings asking for more. Some people......