Your editorial, Ever Upward, (Alexandria Times, March 15) contained inaccurate and misleading information.
Central office budgets were reduced by $2.87 million and 19 full time positions, or 5 percent. In spite of those reductions, the net increase to central office departments was $1.07 million, or 2.1 percent, due to the salary scale step increases, cost of living (COLA) increases, and increased expenses for employee benefits. These are normal increases. No new central office positions are funded in this budget. It is a positive that Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) retains our most experienced employees. Professionals expect and deserve to be compensated for their experience and professional expertise.
Eighty-five percent of ACPS expenditures go directly to the schools, including costs in central office department budgets. Central office budgets purchase everything from textbooks, software and instructional materials to custodial supplies and copy machines. Central office budgets pay for teacher training, curriculum development, special education and English as a Second Language services, and teacher mentors and coaches to improve classroom instruction.
Central office employees provide vital support to maintain facilities, transport and feed students, recruit and hire staff, process payroll and benefits, and many other activities as in any business organization. The beneficiaries of this work are our students and our staff. Not every employee works directly with children, but every employees service supports our mission of Learning for allwhatever it takes!
ACPS instructional support and support services units (including administrators) represent only 10.7 percent of total ACPS staff. This compares with Arlington (12.7 percent), Prince Georges (12.3 percent), Prince William (9.7 percent) and Fairfax County-with greater economics of scale-(7.2 percent); see Washington Area Boards of Education Guide.
The deputy superintendent is not an additional position, as your editorial suggested.
It replaces the positions of assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, which was previously (in 1998-99) the assistant superintendent for educational programs.
Contrary to your statement, former superintendents did have both a secretary and an executive assistant as evidenced by the 1998-1999 organization chart. Salaries of previous executive assistants were comparable to that of the incumbent.
Keep in mind that federal and state mandates have exponentially increased since 1999, including huge demands for testing and reporting to both the state and the federal government. I invite you to consider how the executive staff has changed in nine years:
1998-99 assistant superintendents (4); executive directors and directors (16); the total equals 20; including supervisor of finance and executive assistant, the total is 22.
For 2007-08, deputy and assistant superintendents (4); executive directors and directors (18); total: 22; including supervisor of budget and executive assistant, total: 24.
The executive directors oversee elementary programs, secondary programs, financial services and information technology services, monitoring and evaluation, and information and outreach.
Your claim that administrators in the central office do not impact instruction is an uneducated statement. School divisions with strong central administrations are more effective in improving student achievement and in managing resources than school divisions without strong administrations. A strong administration provides for a uniform curriculum in all of the schools, consistent standards of hiring and evaluation, consistent standards of student performance, and consistent standards of financial management.
When you consider the special needs of our school population and proliferating requirements for federal and state testing and accountability, ACPS administration is staffed at modest levels when compared with similar school divisions.
Rebecca L. Perry is superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools.