In the days preceding a likely teachers strike from the teachers in Denver Public Schools, leaked payroll data has shattered the district’s claims.
The school district has long faced criticism that it spends too much on administration and not enough on teaching kids. An analysis of the payroll data buttresses that argument strongly.
Close to $6 million are spent on payroll for district’s top leadership, aphoristically called the Superintendent’s cabinet. Those 46 personnel lack clear roles in the minds of many.
It’s not just top brass in question. When Boasberg’s first communications director Mike Vaughn met with the North Denver News in early 2008, there were only three people handling press relations for the district. There are now eleven–making $700,000 a year. The full communications shop numbers thirty-seven, with a payroll of nearly $2 million.
The District’s scandals and legal problems are run through a group of six lawyers, staffed up at a cost of $700,000.
Denver Public Schools spent $7 million in 2017 on “Analysts”; $1 million on “Assessment Coordinator” positions with another $288,000 going to data assessment partners; $1.5 million on a series of associate directors of instruction and operations; $8 million on Curriculum Coordinators, whose salaries average out to $72,000 each; $9.5 million on “Coordinators”; and $5.56 million on people classified as Executive Management.
With $50 million going to people who do not have contact with students, the data belies the district’s branding of “Students First” and “Team DPS.”
Approximately 5% of student dollars goes to “Central Office,” according to school budgets from FY2017. Five percent of the district billion dollar budget equals some $46,000,000, which could pay for 700 more teachers, or a raise for existing teachers in a district where teacher turnover is high and teachers are ready to strike over their compensation.
While district leadership is arguing poverty against a potential strike, that $50 million overhead comes at the cost of having enough teachers for classrooms, compensating teachers fairly, and having enough support staff for every building.