J Kent McHose: School budget problems go beyond ‘belt tightening’ | SummitDaily.com

J Kent McHose: School budget problems go beyond ‘belt tightening’

J Kent McHose
Member, Summit Board of Education

Having served for the last three years on the Summit School District’s Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committee, I would like to comment on the perception held by some that the Summit School District can achieve significant expense savings by reducing central office overhead and administrative positions throughout the school district if only we would do a little belt-tightening like everyone else has been doing in our community.

Let’s look at some facts about our central and administrative overhead.

– Administrators (principals, central office staff, etc.) salary and benefits account

for 7.7 percent of the SSD budget versus 8.4 percent for the state

– Administrator salary and benefits declined from 8.4 percent to 7.7 percent over the last eight years while the state average has increased from 7.6 percent to 8.4 percent

– Office staff (secretaries, administrative assistants, etc.) account for 3.8 percent of our budget versus 5.7 percent for the state.

– We support 40 teachers for every central administrator versus the national average of 33.

The message is clear: We have already done our homework in terms of downsizing to a lean, efficient administrative/central office staffing level, and we have been equally thorough and requiring in all other areas of our expense structure. However, we have been committed to not compromising our academic excellence and retaining our outstanding teaching staff.

The outlook for the 2010-2011 school budget is grim, quite likely similar to the $1.4 million we cut this year. However, now we have fewer options and will have to make tough decisions, including about our classroom sizes and staffing levels.

So, we need the funding provided by 3B to maintain our academic levels and support our students. Re-investing a few dollars of the upcoming property tax reduction in our schools is a win-win – a strong education for our youth and keeping jobs in Summit County.

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