Pruning the Vine

Central Office

Over the past several days, our district has begun to work on what we would term the “bureaucracy” of the school district: the Central Office. The central office cost itself is around 75 million dollars which is about 5% of the overall school budget. The original recommendation is 26% cut of about 18 million.

BCG(one of our professional consultants) helped create a new central office model based upon the TPC recommendation of the new administrative model. They also helped create the new pay bands based upon school districts of comparable size. As a result, the SCS posted a list of new positions. And like many companies it was a fairly hierarchical model creating silos and multiple managerial levels.

But creating the new model based upon industry practices without applying fiscal realities was a mistake. As a result, Superintendent Hopson began to flatten the org structure and reflect the real targeted salaries. He also eliminated auto allowances for many folks as well. This will result in more savings.

There is also an effort to look at particular job types and determine whether or not they really need to be a 12 month contract, 11 month contract, or 10 month contract. Moving some positions from 11 to 10 month could result in significant savings as well.

Lastly, I believe that our audit committee could order a full forensic audit of the district to wring out money that is somewhere in the pipeline of the district. Hopefully, we can find money to help drive this deficit down.

Salary Modifications

There has been lots of discussion lately about how we best make sure salaries are equitable across the district. That would not only include principals and teachers but any other support personnel in the district. Principals in the SCS make more, Teachers in the MCS make more. The cost to level up to the higher salary ranges would cost 11 million dollars per year. State law gives the board 3 years to level the salaries. I have to say that I empathize with any employees who feels like they are being treated differently. And we will remedy the salary issues within our statutory time frame. But I have to say, to level up these salaries year 1 would cost:

Significantly more teacher cuts across the county

So I cannot support a change in pay year 1. Also in parallel, our board is looking at a new compensation model for the entire district which could include school performance, size of the school, etc.. I cannot reconcile a principal running a high performing high school of 2200 students vs. a low performing school of 300 and paying them the same salary. It is not logical for me in any sense. So I do believe we owe an explanation of the process to our principals and a plan with a timeline for complete resolution of this issue. I think it is only fair that if teacher pay is going to be tied to performance then so should the principals.

What is next?

We have our board working session next week at the TLA at 5:30. The slate of discussion does not seem to be too over the top except we will begin the discussion about looking at more school closures next year. We have a special called meeting as well to consider our bussing solution, custodial, etc.. That meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 5:30 but I suspect it may get moved to Tuesday. either way, we will let you know.

Also, members of the Memphis City Council have reached out to me ready to mediate the 57 million to a conclusion.I fully expect for final negotiations to begin soon to close that chapter. We need some of that this year and I think some are willing to help some

Current projected funding gap places the district around 35 million in the red which means we have cut out another 33 million. We continue to look for savings, inefficiencies, funding sources, etc.. Tough job…

Have a good weekend!



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