The Atlanta Public Schools’ records show that the district spends more money in administrative salaries than other districts in the Southeast, but is not getting very good bang for its buck.
Instructors are paid about $831 per student and department heads receive about $171 per student, according to the AJC. These figures are more than double the amount paid to administrators in nine other metro Atlanta school districts, despite APS’s dropping enrollment, low graduation rate and low test scores.
Superintended Errol Davis said that larger schools in urban communities are more expensive to run than suburban schools.
“My view is that you need to get the basic infrastructure in place before you start worrying about costs,” Davis told the paper. “If you want systematic excellence, you have to build systems, and that costs money.”
Davis says that the district is also recovering from the standardized test cheating scandal and must invest more into the new instructors.
Atlanta Public Schools’ enrollment is less than half of what it was 50 years ago, with only 49,000 students enrolled.
The district’s teacher to student ratio is about 16 to 1000. If the district were to cut admin spending, the AJC calculated that there would be enough funds to hire an additional 300 instructors, each with salaries of about $80,000.
“If I were a taxpayer in that district, I’d be looking pretty closely at what they spend,” said Scott Austensen, Georgia Department of Education Chief Financial Officer. “Without making a value judgment, it does look particularly high.”
Ruben McDaniel, Atlanta Board of Education Chairman says that APS has to spend more to accommodate students who qualify for free and reduced lunches and students who are disabled.