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More on the growth in central office

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Last week we reported on District budget data that appears to show substantial growth in spending for administrative support since 2008-09, including growth in the number of administrative staff positions.

The Notebook has received detailed explanations from Chief Business Officer Michael Masch for the increase in employee numbers, indicating that for the most part, the increase in number of administrative staff positions from 896 to 1135 reported in the budget book did not reflect the creation of new central office jobs.

The variation in part reflects a distinction between filled jobs and budgeted jobs and in part reflects existing District positions being recategorized as administrative support.

For starters, Masch explained, "You are comparing actual filled positions in December 2008 with the estimated position level in the Spring of 2009 and the number of positions budgeted for FY2010-11. Therefore, much of what you are characterizing as a “huge increase” is simply the difference between budgeted and filled position levels, not an increase in budgeted positions."

Masch acknowledged two areas of administrative support staff growth: 20 new "Data Driven Instruction Specialists" in the Accountability office and 19 positions added in the new Charter/Partnership/New Schools office.

But much of the other apparent growth in positions is just recategorization of jobs, Masch said. For instance, 66 case manager and compliance positions in the Office of Specialized Services and 34 positions in the Office of Capital Programs have been recategorized as administrative.

This accounting of administrative positions would only partially explain why the total budget line for administrative support grew from $117 million in 2008-09 to $198 million in the current budget, a 70 percent increase. We await more information on that.

And Masch offered a clarifying note – the columns in the personnel chart on p 98 of the budget book are incorrectly labeled. They actually reference filled positions in Dec.2008, estimated positions in fiscal year 2010, and budgeted positions for the coming year.

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