Monday, June 6, 2016

Watchdog: MDE continues to grow

Steve Wilson reports at that the Mississippi Department of Education has grown despite being removed from the oversight of the State Personnel Board:

The Mississippi Department of Education’s two-year hiatus from oversight by the state personnel board — which is coming to an end July 1 — has resulted in a growing staff and higher pay and benefit costs. That’s not exactly the “effective and efficient” change envisioned by lawmakers or promised by state superintendent of education Carey Wright when the exemption was granted in 2014.

According to records obtained by Mississippi Watchdog, the number of MDE employees making $100,000 or greater has increased from 16 on June 30, 2014 — when the MDE was under civil service rules — to 20 as of May 31.

Also, position titles were changed on many leadership positions, which means even more money paid by taxpayers in the form of salaries and benefits. In 2014, there were three deputy superintendents, with a salary range of $128,000 to more than $224,000, and three associate superintendents, with a salary range of $106,000 to more than $186,000. Now there are six deputy superintendents and only one associate.

 The department’s spending on salaries and benefits rose from more than $25 million in fiscal 2015 to more than $31 million in fiscal 2016, which ends July 1. The fiscal 2017 appropriation bill for the department (the Mississippi budget is done in a series of bills for each agency) lists 392 full-time employees and 104 part-timers, an increase from last year’s appropriation, with 378 full-time and 85 part-time employees.
As of July 1, the MDE will again be under the state personnel board. Gov. Phil Bryant vetoed House Bill 199 last month, which would have extended the MDE’s civil service exemption for another year. The governor said in his veto message that the department had made 203 new hires and given 331 salary increases to 247 employees since 2014.

In the veto message, Bryant said he didn’t think “an additional year of these types of personnel decisions by the Mississippi Department of Education will yield cost savings and improved services for taxpayers.”

 The MDE said that 227 of those increases were legislatively mandated and the rest were employees who applied for and were promoted to jobs requiring more skills and responsibilities.

Mississippi has the nation’s highest-paid education leader in Wright, who makes $307,000 per year.....
Rest of article.

 Kingfish note: Compare Mr. Wilson's critical piece to this more sympathetic AP analysis.


Anonymous said...

"Mississippi has the nation’s highest-paid education leader in Wright, who makes $307,000 per year..."

And everyone always grips that Mississippi is last on the list for everything! Just wish my children could go to school in building that has working bathrooms and no roof leaks.

Anonymous said...

The state of Mississippi, which is at the bottom in edumacation has the highest paid supe, then we have some bogus group called the INSTITUTE FOR HIGHER LEARNING that the top guy gets around 400k and this huge staff. Then they want to complain about lack of revenue but cut funding for DOR because politicians don't want phone calls from people who owe back taxes. It's like someone is playing one big joke. If you made this stuff up no one would believe it.

Anonymous said...

People remember, we are talking about Ms. We have the least educated kids and the highest paid education leader. Nothing unusual. Just Ms. at it's best doing what they have always done.

Anonymous said...

Do we know how much of the increase is attributed to legislative mandates? Reading Gate (which was from the Governor) added at least 45 literacy coaches to the rolls. The number may be higher now- I know they were having a hard time finding qualified people and had to re-post several times and ended up hiring people with less experience than they originally wanted (and needed). I'm sure there are other similar initiatives although likely smaller in number of hires.

There is nothing wrong with holding MDE's feet to the fire, but we need to acknowledge that there are lots of layers to this problem. Not all of which Dr. Wright has control of.

Anonymous said...

One Hundred Percent behind Reading Gate.

One thing different about this Department Head: She is Not from Mississippi. Before we had people who had grown up here and were in churches here and had children attending the schools. This made them more accountable to all. Not sure why they needed to increase the $100,000. + level to 20. That would be roughly 4 counties each which should be managable from a population standpoint. To me, you could even call this salary racist, since the main problems seem to be within the black students. To pay someone this amount to educate our children to the level both blacks and whites achieved prior to intergration smacks of a racial problem to me.

The picture is metaphorical: There are three empty chairs "at the table" and there are four blacks standing against the wall. What's up with this?

Anonymous said...

Here Comes the Apologist, Here Comes the Apologist

Anonymous said...

Those salaries would be a bargain if they accomplished anything. But they don't and aren't held accountable. So it's a very expensive jobs program.

Anonymous said...

And contacts to Butler Snow continue to grow......

Anonymous said...

"And contacts to Butler Snow continue to grow......"

Do tell.

Anonymous said...

@1:37 exactly. Just as in the recent dust up with MAAS, Phil Bryant Et al. will try to make hay with this knowing that they are at least as much at fault as MDE. All the while knowing that Butler Snow has a piece of many of the contracts with MDE especially anything involving outside funding. There are many corporate flow through grants that MDE probably doesn't want any part of, but they "can't bite the hand that feeds them" to quote Mr. Frierson. So, MDE has to provide a liason between the giver, BS, and the recipients- thus creating another job that the legislators and taxpayers can complain about. Damned if you do, damned if you don't sums up a good bit of this.

And, what exactly did local boy Hank Bounds do to advance the ball when he was State Supt. and IHL Commissioner? (At the same salary as Wright?) Yes, he was smart enough to play the good old boy game and not rock the boat. Smart enough to land an even bigger salary out of state once he could retire. Smart enough to keep us right where we were when he started- 50th.

There are definitely things that need to be improved- but, the change has to start at the top. The game was established long before Dr. Wright got to town. You can't blame her if she has learned how to play.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that the vote to fully fund MAEP failed. The reason why is right here...the MDE does not know how to manage $.

Anonymous said...

Too much money to the chiefs, not enough left to pay the Indians. That's why Mississippi is last.

The Woman Is No Manager said...

Requesting and getting approval to remove an agency from SPB oversight does NOT mean cost cutting or jobs reduction. It means having the 'authority to restructure'. That can mean realignment, trimming jobs, increasing positions or raising pay of certain jobs, as apparently is the case here.

She bamboozled the legislature and they backed up and bent over. And here we are.

Anonymous said...

Must be nice to earn so much money on the backs of taxpayers and school teachers. Does anybody really care? Seems hilarious how the legislature cuts budgets of just about every other state agency, but too scared to mess with the golden goose of MDE.

Anonymous said...

10:42, politicians know who put them into office. Politicians want to stay in office. Politicians will continue to do what the people who put them into office want them to do.
If there is ever a politician who wants to rein in the cost of education we see people crawling out of the wood work. Parents think the more tax payers spend on education the better their child will be educated. They should learn from prior experience but they don't.
Every politician has a friend who needs a high paying job with a great retirement and great benefits. They know they can stick them somewhere in some education position even if they have to make up the position. Teacher jobs do not pay enough for these friends and is too much work.
Then we have the schools. They all need money for some sports program as everyone knows that is the most important part of education.

What I'm Suggesting Here, Is... said...

Where is Bennett Malone when Mississippi needs him? He was instrumental in cleaning up all the mess and corruption at DOC/Parchman and should be turnt loose on this agency.

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