Friday, April 5, 2013

Administrative what? [with Technical Services information included]

Because it's a little unclear what I'm talking about in today's article on budget priorities, let me lay it out here:
Under M.G.L. Chapter 70, municipalities can charge some of their internal administration costs against their required net school spending. This makes sense, as some of the work done in city departments legitimately is work for the schools.
Under the agreement between the City of Worcester and the Worcester Public Schools (which dates back years now), the city charges 54% of the following to the Worcester Public Schools each year:
  • Auditing
  • Purchasing
  • Technical Services
  • City Treasurer
  • Budget Office
The 54% is the percent of the entire budget that the Worcester Public Schools make up for the city, not the amount of work done by those departments for the schools. In each of the above cases, the schools make up a very small amount of the work done by those departments. The City Auditor, as a function of his office, does review school spending; the bulk of his work is done city side. In Purchasing, the only thing the city does in the actual issuing of purchase orders; the bundling, lining up of orders, pricing, and so forth is all done internal to WPS. Technical services isn't used by WPS at all forwards the PDFs of purchase orders, prepared by WPS purchasing, as needed, and forwards the PDFs of WPS deposit to the appropriate place, as needed. They also print the few remaining direct deposit slips that aren't emailed.The City Treasurer does issue the checks that pay our bills, but the rest of the work of managing funds are done by the WPS business office; likewise, the line-item of the WPS budget that the city issues is part of the City Budget office, but the WPS budget is managed by WPS personnel.
What this means is that the majority of our "administrative" costs aren't our administrative costs at all: they're city administrative cost.
To give you an idea of how out of whack this is, here's a comparision with other cities
I have no idea what's going on with Springfield.
Worcester is the second line from the left: of our $9.2 million in administrative spending, $4.9 million is city administration. In no other district is the city administration more than the schools side; in no district is it even close.
There is another way of calculating administrative costs: you can use (as we assume most of the above communities do) a per pupil amount. Right now, though, there's $4.9 million that's counted as school spending that is paying for very little schools work.
And that's downright scandalous. 


CW said...

The statement "Technical services isn't used by WPS at all." is not correct. You should speak to the CIO or Deputy CIO for clarification.

Tracy Novick said...

My apologies. I have cleared that up with our administration and you'll see a correction above. Apparently, the PDFs are still forwarded through Technical Services.