Wednesday, April 17, 2019

State Auditor: Fewer Teachers & Students BUT More Admins in Public Schools

State Auditor Shad White said spending on administrators "ballooned" while the number of teachers and students fell in Mississippi public schools over the last ten years.  Mr. White made the allegations in a report he released this morning.

The report argues that Mississippi could provide teachers with a pay raise of at least $11,000 if such spending remained the same during the last ten years.  The report states:

 Over the last ten years, spending outside the K-12 classroom has ballooned. As shown in the  box  at  left,  Administrative  costs  in  particular  have  grown  faster  than  overall  K-12 education   spending   and   faster   than   Instructional   spending.   The   total   increase   in costs  over  the  last  ten  years  is  $145  million  and  the  increase  in  Non-Instructional costs is $140 million....

Outside-the-classroom spending has increased despite a decrease in the number of students and teachers over the last ten years....
The brief report is posted below.




44 comments:

Anonymous said...

I’m starting to really like this guy. This has been the elephant in the room for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Tomorrow's Clarion Ledger headline.

Anonymous said...

Hey, wait a minute... I thought the governor said there wasn't a brain drain.

How can that be possible when enrollment in public schools is down over a 10 year period?

Anonymous said...

Although I'm sure this is evident throughout the state, JPS is the glaring poster child for this problem.

Anonymous said...

"Outside-the-classroom spending has increased despite a decrease in the number of K-12 students and teachers over the last ten years."

Couple of thoughts. For someone who is very smart, as the auditor's staff is claimed to be, you think they'd account for simple inflation in their numbers.

That's right, there's a thing called inflation. For instance, If I spent $822M in 2006-2007 (for admin expenses), as the state auditor indicates, I would have spent $1.036B in 2016-2017 JUST keeping up with inflation.

Mississippi spent less than the inflation rate, which means the actual today dollar value has DECREASED in the past 12 years.

It's also pretty silly to think that because overall enrollment decreased 2.6% (again, using the auditor's numbers) that the cost of heating and cooling buildings... or bussing students... or debt service would all decrease as a pro-rata rate.

You don't get a discount on your power bill because 1 less kid in a class of 25 are there.

Please, try again, guys.

Anonymous said...

You have to Roosters gaurding the Hen House.

Bill Dees said...

Why is the Auditor examining this? Isn't this PEER's responsibility? Why is the Auditor inserting himself into legislative policy matters?

Anonymous said...

Similar to healthcare. Costs rise and outcomes don’t keep pace with other nations. The rise of the administrator.

Anonymous said...

Add the Junior and Community College administrative costs to the herd of elephants.

In the past, it's been pointed out to me by legislators that " school jobs" are the only jobs we got and those people vote and pay taxes".

The reality that we are a poor State dependent on the federal government is not totally lost on our current legislature despite the political rhetoric given the base who just wants those poor blacks that they imagine are the only recipients of federal largesse to go away.

If federal largesse goes away so do far more jobs than most what to face...remember it's not just welfare money we get. We aren't large enough to pay for the hospitals, roads and bridges and government buildings and law enforcement services we enjoy.

Do the math.

Anonymous said...

Shad's a smart guy, so he knows this is intellectually dishonest. I'm all for cutting waste, but this smacks of MS-Center-for-Public-Policy-level abuse of statistics.

Start with the classic red herring: the graphs with a non-zero Y axes, making a 2.5% decline in students look like falling off a cliff, etc.

More importantly, Republicans frequently use the canard of "if spending on X hadn't increased since Y, we could do Z." Each and every time, they ignore all confounding factors, including things as basic as inflation.

Look at the chart. The percent increase for classroom instruction is 10.5%, which is the lowest in the country and hasn't kept pace with inflation/CPI. So right off the bat, if your concern is covering the actual cost of education, as opposed to doing statistical stage magic, you can lop 10.5% off the 17.6% administrative increase.

So we start with a net increase of about 7% over instructional spending, which is less than inflation. Now let's be really cautious and assume teacher pay in MS stayed close behind inflation/CPI (it didn't), and only knock that down to a 5% net increase in administrative spending in real adjusted dollars.

But even that's not a fair comparison, because Shad has cherry picked a year (2006) that was an outlier in terms of administrative expenses, as you can clearly see from the chart on page 2. The numbers jump up and down like crazy. Had Shad arbitrarily picked 2008 (which would be the right year for a so-called "last ten years" analysis) his argument would be inverted--i.e., "Wow, look how much more efficient we are on non-classroom costs."

LOL, as the kids say.

(On that point, why exactly does this summary of "the last ten years" run from 2006-2016? I honestly don't know, but given the lack of intellectual integrity displayed in the rest of the document, you have to assume it's because the 2008-2018 contradict Shad's thesis.)

I'm sure there's plenty more chicanery to point out, but that's enough based on a quick five minute read. At the end of the day, all this release proves is: 2006 was a major outlier in education spending generally, including administrative spending. If abnormally low expenditures had continued in administrative spending, but nowhere else, and if you ignore inflation (which would get your accountant sued), then you'd have more money for teacher pay.

The implied GOP message is, "We don't have to pay taxes to invest in education. We just have to magically go back to the lowest spending year on record and pretend inflation doesn't happen."

Remember, this guy was a Rhodes Scholar. He knows he's lying to you. He just doesn't care.

Anonymous said...

let's hire more administrators to study this problem..oh..that's the real reason tuition in higher ed, school taxes go up...

eh..lets cut something else

Anonymous said...

9:23 he is talking about the increase in administrators not increasing people's salaries. When i was in high school we had two high school principals now the schools have a principal for every grade plus all of these other positions like transportation supervisor

Anonymous said...

9:27, good question, but the real question is why do we still have an elected auditor at all? An elected auditor spends time on political hot button issues, instead of actual auditing.

He is spot on, but this is indeed a PEER issue and it is a policy issue. Not a financial auditor issue.

Rod Knox said...

I've heard that situation being called "political fiefdoms" 9:29. And it appears Mississippians love them some fiefdoms as long as they can pretend THEY aren't the fiefs.

Anonymous said...

Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.

As pointed out above, excluding inflation for basically a TEN YEAR period is dishonest. These numbers don’t keep up with inflation - and they cherry pick a low point in spending as the starting point.

And, they also don’t include increased administrative burdens from state and federal mandates over the last 10 years. There is more testing done than ever before.

Anonymous said...

... that the cost of heating and cooling buildings

Even adjusted for inflation the cost of natural gas, for example, is down substantially over the time frame. The costs for running a school district are quite specific. Using a blanket argument about inflation is "pretty silly".

Anonymous said...

Is that what Tate told you to say?

Anonymous said...

Folks so ready to shoot down these numbers are the same who blindly drink every swig of kool-aid poured by Jake McGraw.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi has the dumbest students and the worst schools in the U.S.
Why are the teachers and administrators wanting a pay raise to take them up to the average pay? They are not doing an average job.
We should pay according to the results.

Anonymous said...

Auditor has the right idea!

Anonymous said...

How did Shad account for the increased number of gubmint mandates the administrations of schools have to deal with?

PittPanther said...

Cut more music programs, build larger football stadiums.
Problem solved, Mississippi-style.

Anonymous said...

We should consider the mandates that are continuously pushed down from the federal and state level. Maybe some are merited and maybe not but somebody has to administer all of it. The testing and assessments. And all of the new requirements for special needs students. And school safety regulations. Technology issues. The list goes on. Teachers can’t be expected to do all of that on top of teaching.

Anonymous said...

The Legislature could take steps to curb administrative expenses by setting in law salaries for principals and central office officials just as teacher salaries are set by law. Salaries could be stratified by size of school or school district. And we do have too many school districts which is something else the legislature could do something about.

Maybe folks should call or email their legislator instead of just complaining on here.

Anonymous said...

The usual JJ messenger shooters have arrived to randomly fire at anything that moves.

Anonymous said...

Judging by the comments above, it's interesting that a state auditor (of all people) would be so willing to cook the books in presenting his figures.

Anonymous said...

Some of this could be FEDERAL AND STATE required employees such as environmental site consultants, dietitians at each school, sports physical therapists I'm just saying that some increase could be required new employees.

The other thought is this, do any of you understand how expensive it is to keep a competent employee hired? The job market is full of people that are totally incompetent and you are having to pay 15% more over the last 2 years to keep knowledgeable people on the job. I started paying a person with 4 years experience $41,000 2 months ago and i'm praying they work out. Two ladies are paid $55,000 (15 years exp) and $70,000 (25 years exp.) If the schools have to have competent employees they have to pay. That's just a thought about why these costs are up.

Rod Knox said...

Give the teachers a 30% raise and operate the schools 12 months a year. In the long run the state would likely benefit a great deal.

Of course long term benefits are only worth the 'Jackson Swamps" consideration when it's their benefits.

Anonymous said...

The true numbers.....believe it or not.....are much worse than the toothless tiger Shad has presented. They haven't even accounted for the over 30% absence rate of students statewide.....the DOE bleeds a river of tax dollars....but poor Shad isn't going to rock the boat too much. If he were serious, he'd have the feds come down here and do some forensic audits to nail some people to the wall.....and as mentioned above....this doesn't even scratch the surface of the billions wasted over the last ten years with the community colleges and universities. 80% of higher ed students at some sites are dependent on federal financial aid.....but rarely go to class, and are passed, promoted, and graduate anyway....just like they learned they could in Mississippi K-12.

Anonymous said...

While Shad failed to accurately adjust for inflation and did not include a more lengthy time-series, I agree w/ the principle but not methods of his report.

I've always proposed treating school administration like we do the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the transportation commissioners. There is a northern, central, and southern commissioner. This should apply to school superintendents. We pay very good salaries to superintendents, and there is often more than one in a county (counties w/ county and municipal districts). They should all be laid off, and northern, central, and southern education commissioners appointed to these roles.

While Shad's use of math is less than satisfactory, the high administrative costs in education is a worthy topic.

Anonymous said...

"The usual JJ messenger shooters have arrived to randomly fire at anything that moves."

^^^FOR THE WIN!^^^

And let's not overlook Rod Knox, Pitt Panther and Bill Dees. Who am I missing?.......

Anonymous said...

This is the main reason I vote against any tax increase for education !!!!

Anonymous said...

I can’t get past the fact that they couldn’t find someone who knew how to cut and paste the auditor’s seal from another document and then use basic image editing software to match it with the background of the current document. This lack of effort/laziness/ignorance of basic computer skills won’t allow me to proceed any further to the actual substance, or lack thereof, in this document.

Anonymous said...

DEFINITION OF a fishing reel...large metal object used to make expensive rod sink.....
defi of landing net......long handled object , circular on one end, used to knock fish off the lure

defi of administrator..... government gold brick employee , getting huge government salary and benefits to not do anything all day except hassel teachers on the days they even bother to show up for work

Anonymous said...

Shad, the cost of textbooks, computers, software and the Free Lunch Program should be taken out of the numbers. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Seems a lot of people here are all about state control, not local control. That’s what you forget about School Districts... they’re essentially local governing authorities under state law. What, truly, makes you think that the state can do a better job running schools than a locally run board?

Setting salaries in law? Great. Let’s make sure we do it for Mayors, too.. they’re also local governing authorities that get state aid money. While we’re at it, let’s just make three governing bodies for the northern, central, and southern areas of the state and eliminate all mayors. That would be better, right? If you had to contact Jackson to get a sewer line cleared.

Same goes for education. It’s best controlled locally. Apparently, you’ve all forgotten that you can VOTE (either directly to indirectly in rare cases) for your school board, who appoints your leadership.

If you don’t like it, stop your bitching online and get to the polling place. Otherwise, can it.

Anonymous said...

I would but Trump and the Russians keep colluding my vote.

Anonymous said...

April 17, 2019 at 9:51 AM

Typical arrogance from an educator. Thinking they're smarter than the drafter of a report and the consumers. He's not talking about rising costs, he's questioning the inverted relationship of admin costs vs enrollment. If I had to guess your name is probably Terry Burton.

Rod Knox said...

Everyone knows why there are so many school districts but those who benefit swear otherwise.

Anonymous said...

To the Contrarian @9:51

Bachelors of Economics & Political Science
Masters of Economics & Social History
Doctorate of Jurisprudence/President of Harvard Federalist Society
Director of Mississippi Justice Institute
Special Prosecutor-Rankin County
Forensic Accounting Certificate

Not sure what you're background is, but it appears that Shad White may be the most functionally qualified person to ever serve as the State Auditor in Mississippi's history. The fact that he has the stones to take on the educational industrial complex in Mississippi is remarkable in and of itself.

You're comments reek of an insider's tilt, the ones who benefit from keeping the status quo for Mississippi....rich getting richer....while using graft and corruption to hide in plain sight and chiseling the taxpayers for billions. Mississippi is no different than a third world dictatorship....except everyone smiles, nods, says "hotty toddy", and laughs.

Perhaps Shad White should work with a federal judge or U.S. inspector general to open the books on every "educational" institution in the state just to really see where on earth billions keeps disappearing. White probably doesn't have enough staff anyway.

A deeper investigation into the Mississippi education machine could triple the debacle of the Epps scandal. No one has been watching Mississippi's money for decades, but a select few keep shucking, jiving, thriving, and conniving their way to the top positions with no real intent of serving all Mississippians. Vital budgets have been squandered away to certain pockets, and the decay is more than visible or simply a #50 national ranking on a piece of paper. People are not being served, while billions are secreted away.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Shad.

Anonymous said...


Consolidate school districts which decreases admin costs and put the money back into the classrooms!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Shad! Thanks for giving a damn!

Anonymous said...

82 counties. 141 (or whatever it is now) school districts. 141 (or whatever it is now) district superintendents and administrations. See a problem here??? To much admin costs! Folks just want a front office jump that doesn't require them to deal with the undisciplined brats, and make more money! "Let's create a new division to research a task initiative and have the division consists of one manager and one staff!" China is going to win the 21st century ...

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