School cartel gets top heavy; bean counters gain 35% to students’ 7%

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The cost of putting a student through a year of public school classes is about $10,000, with administrative costs of the program growing ever dearer.

The number of new school administrators at public schools in Tennessee grew by 34.5 percent between 2000 and 2012, while the number of new teachers increased by less than 17 percent.

The number of new students, meanwhile, grew by just 7 percent.

These were among the findings in a report released Monday by the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a nonprofit research organization, using figures provided by the Tennessee Department of Education.

Salaries for principals and superintendents rose during the same period, as did those for teachers. But after adjusting for inflation, teachers made less money in 2012 than they did in 2000, the report found.

“Ultimately, more spending does not equal better results,” Justin Owen, Beacon president, said. “Rather than allocate more money, especially on administrative personnel, public school districts should focus on spending education funds more wisely. Only then can Tennessee expect to provide its students with the quality education they deserve.”

Kelli Gauthier, TDOE spokeswoman, would not comment directly on the report’s findings, but, in a statement to Tennessee Watchdog, said they are important.

“In Tennessee, we have seen continuous improvement over the past several years, but we agree that simply spending money does not necessarily result in increased student achievement.”

Pay for teachers, officials soars

Among the report’s key statewide findings, from 2000 to 2012:

➤ The average salary for a public school classroom teacher in Tennessee rose from $36,327 to $47,082, an increase of 29.6 percent, not adjusted for inflation.

➤ The average salary for a public school principal rose from $59,064 to $78,514, an increase of 32.93 percent. The average pay for a school system superintendent rose from $77,127 to $103,692, an increase of 34.36 percent.

➤ On average, one new administrator was hired for every 48 new students, as opposed to just one new teacher for every six new students. As a result, for every seven teachers added, another administrator was added.

➤ Administrative expenditures per pupil rose from $449.66 to $793.07 — an increase of 76 percent.

$10,088 outlay per student

➤ The amount that taxpayers already spend on public education is significantly underreported. While the average stated amount spent per pupil is $9,123 per year, the true figure is about 11 percent more than reported, or $10,088 per student. Of that funding, less than 54 percent is directed at classroom instruction, such as teacher salaries, textbooks and other instructional spending.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org. Visit Tennessee Watchdog.

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