By: Mike Hagerty, CFO, MSBO President, Asst. Superintendent, Administrative Services, Kent ISD
As President of MSBO, I’m asked each month to write an article for the MSBO eNews & Views newsletter. As you may have noticed, each month I try to include an interesting data point you can use in your district. This month’s data point comes from our friends at CEPI. About this time each year, they release the prior year’s FID data. So, as I do each year, I pulled the data for the county in which I work, as well as, the state-wide totals. Before discussing the data, let’s first start with a short quiz.
Question 1: True or False…Schools spent $1.38b LESS in salary/wages in 2017-18 vs 2008-09?
Question 2: True or False…Overall school spending was $326m LESS in 2017-18 vs 2008-09?
It’s hard to believe, but, if you answered True to both questions, you are correct. Take a look at the chart I created below, which compares school spending over a 10-year period from 2008-09 to 2017-18.
This is amazing! In education, we spent $1.38b or 16.64% less in wages and $140m or 16.58% less in supplies than 10 years ago. I guess when faced with the question on why the academic performance of students is falling behind nationally, the answer may lie in the chart above. To put the $1.38b in perspective, ORS reports the average salary is $41,974, which means there are 32,911 less people working in education today than 10 years ago. Now that isn’t entirely true, because part of the $615m or 53.05% increase in PD/Travel/Purch Serv was the privatization of services, which resulted in a cost shift from salaries. It’s also important to note the $769m increase in benefits is inflated because of 147c (retirement paid “off the top” of the School Aid Fund), which was in place in 2017-18 but wasn’t in 2008-09. For an apples-to-apples comparison, approximately $783m or 11% of wages would need to be deducted from benefits in 2017-18. Doing so would make benefits over the 10-year period relatively flat.
Now there certainly is a counter argument to this data as one could argue student enrollment has dropped over this 10-year period as well. According to Senate Fiscal Agency, the total pupil count in 2017-18 was 1,483,500 vs a 2008-09 count of 1,619,744. That is an 8.4% drop in student enrollment. While a considerable drop, it still doesn’t compare to the 16.64% drop in wages over the same period of time. And we all also understand that just because we lose 50 students across the grades, doesn’t mean we can easily cut staff.
It’s also worth noting that although total expenditures have dropped, the cost per pupil has increased. For example, in 2017-18, the cost per pupil was $9,752, while in 2008-09, the cost was $9,079. So, while total expenditures are down 2.21%, the cost per pupil is up 7.4%.
If you are interested in pulling your district or ISD’s data, check out the MI School Data tool on the CEPI website. It can be found under “Financial Dashboard and Reports”, “Object by Function”, “General Fund”, “Statewide Data”.
Good luck analyzing your data!!