photo courtesy of News Mississippi

A study conducted by the State Auditor’s Office has revealed that outside-the-classroom spending has deprived teachers of what could be an $11,000 pay raise.

The study, published by the Auditor on April 15th, shows that with fewer students and fewer teachers, outside-the-classroom spending has ballooned nearly $300 million in the last decade.

Education Report 2019 by yallpolitics on Scribd

Administrative costs have increased by $145 million. Non-instructional costs have gone up by $140 million.

The report defines outside-the-classroom spending as public money spent that does not impact the direct education of the students.

On the administration end, that includes:

  •  superintendent and district office spending (salaries, benefits, commodities, contractual, and travel expenses of those offices),
  • principals and school office costs not related to direct or indirect instruction expenses,
  • operations and maintenance of district offices and campuses,
  • non-student transportation (administrative and other cars, trucks, etc.),
  • supervision and training of non-instructional staff, and
  • information services (publications and printing).

Non-instructional spending included:

  •  food services,
  • community services operations,
  • facility acquisition and construction,
  • debt service, and
  • 16th Section land maintenance.

Ten years ago, when the total per-pupil spending was $10,597, the amount of outside-the-classroom expenditures was $4,608 per student. As of the 2016-17 school year, total per-pupil spending was $12,390 with outside-the-classroom expenditures at $5,411 per student, an increase of $803 per student.

To back up the allegation that overspending outside the classroom has cost teachers a substantial pay raise, the auditor’s office highlighted what spending could have been and how much would have been saved.

“The failure to spend more money inside the classroom may have had an impact on Mississippi’s ability to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers,” said the report. “The total number of classroom teachers has fallen by 1,083 since 2006-07, or 3%. Looking from 2007-08, a high mark for teacher employment, total teachers have declined by 8% as of the 2016-17 school year.”

White added that re-prioritizing spending would boost the quality of teachers.

“As the product of our public schools, the son of a retired public school teacher, and the grandson of two public school teachers, the issue of how we spend education dollars is incredibly important to me,” said Auditor White. “Education policymakers need to take a careful look at where our money is going, and they should explain why outside-the-classroom spending is growing so much.”

This study comes as Governor Bryant just signed legislation that allows for a $1,500 pay raise to go into effect in July. That raise has brought outrage from teachers statewide, with groups calling for political action to take place. The MAE has called this raise “pandering.”

White says teachers can and should get more.

“Common sense says that money spent on a high-quality teacher is the best way to use education funds. When money is spent on administrative costs, outside the classroom, we lose the chance to spend that money on teachers,” said White. “In Mississippi, we can’t afford to waste a single dollar on administrative costs when that money could be going to teachers.”

In a statement, the MS Department of Education said the following:

Local districts set their budgets using the state-mandated teacher salary scale and by considering the administrative and operational costs needed to support teachers and students.  While teacher salaries make up the majority of spending on instruction, principals and other key administrators who are instructional leaders in their schools and districts have a direct impact on classroom learning.