We broke part of this story first on our blog, ….at least as far back as 2006-2010, where we showed that school-based full time staff has been cut back by 7.5% while central admin grew by 7.4%
NYC Education Department central office hired 70% more employees since 2003 amid school budget cuts
Thursday, July 8th 2010, 4:00 AM
Harbus for News, Richard
Tweed Courthouse in Lower Manhattan is the site of a 70% increase in NYC Department of Education central office staff since 2003, agency records reveal.
The head count at the Education Department's central office has ballooned nearly 70% since 2003, agency data show.
As the city moves to cut school budgets and shed teachers, the number of employees rose to 2,268 in 2010 from 1,332 in 2003, when the mayor took over the school system, the department's financial status reviews from those years show.
Salaries for central staffers have also jumped by 79% in the same period, to almost $189 million last year from $105.6 million, documents show.
"They say they're cutting central, but they're just putting more and more money into testing and managing data," said Lisa Donlan, president of lower Manhattan's parents council. "It's not instructional."
The Office of Accountability, which oversees testing, saw the largest spike, from just eight staffers in 2003 to 79 this year.
In the same time period, the Division of Human Resources increased by 80% to 367 staffers; the Division of Instructional and Information Technology grew by 47% to 308 employees, and the Office of Legal Services and Labor Relations ballooned 129% to 110 staffers.
The increase would seem to support some complaints about schools under mayoral control: that testing and data - centerpieces of Schools Chancellor Joel Klein's education philosophy - get more attention than critical thinking, and that parents have less access to isolated decision-makers.
Education Department officials counter that while the staff size at the headquarters in Tweed Courthouse has grown, they have slashed the number of nonschool staffers in field offices, like the old district offices that existed before a 2007 reorganization.
The employees in those offices, such as clerical staffers and some supervisors, reported to headquarters but were counted on a separate field budget. Between 2002 and 2008, their ranks were slashed by 5,200, according to the most recent comparable numbers available, which produced a savings of $179 million.
But a look at the agency's personnel data shows that thousands of those staffers have simply been shifted from the field payroll to school budgets, meaning the cost has been moved - not cut.
For example, about 4,200 full-time employees with the title "school aides" were cut from the field payroll and added to school budgets between 2002 and 2008, Education Department data show. The same is true of about 2,000 "school secretaries." An exact employee-by- employee comparison is not possible, though, because of changes in the agency's accounting practices.
While officials defend shifting some of the aides and secretaries to school budgets, saying they do work for the schools and report to the principals, they note that other staffers cut from field offices were not picked up by schools.
They also point out that between 2003 and 2010, close to $2.6 billion has been added to school budgets.
Deputy Chancellor Photeine Anagnostopoulos said that "with so much more money pouring in the system...we had the opportunity and we didn't take it."