Friday, May 9, 2008

Too Many Chiefs, not enough Braves

A comment was made on a different posting about the large number of administrators that some yeshivas have, some of those administrators with exceedingly high salaries. This is something that I have wondered about myself. What do all those people really do? The commenter mentioned that his daughter's yeshiva has 20 administrators. Twenty?!

This is clearly an area where parents ought to be asking about. Administrators don't work for $16 thousand a year. Let's be low-ball and say $30 thousand a year. But the commenter said that 6 make exceedingly high salaries. So 15 administrators at 30 thousand is "only" $450,000 per year. Give the other six "only" $100,000 each, and our total is $1,050,000 in administrator's salaries. Of course, I'm only guessing as to what they make, since yeshivas are not open with what they spend. The amount could be less...and it could be more.

We also don't know exactly how many administrators each individual yeshiva has. Some may make do with only a few, some with many more. What is considered an administrator? Some schools, most of them, consider anyone who is not a classroom teacher to be in "administration." This is certainly an area where parents need to be better informed about.

I did a little nosing around. One school, which has 5 nursery and kindergarten classes, has a pre-school supervisor/administrator. It has a principal for the school over all, and an assistant principal for English studies. There is one person who serves as maintenance person. When needed, he brings in more help. The cook for the lunch program counts as administration, but is part time and only 4 days a week. Parent volunteers are present at every lunch to do the serving and help with clean up. The teacher who runs the resource room program is considered administration. There are two secretary/administrative assistants and one book keeper who count as administration. That is 9 "administrators" for a school with about 200 children in attendance.

A different school, which has both an elementary school and a high school for girls, has a menahel that heads the whole school. He has an assistant menahel. There is a pre-school supervisor for nursery through Pre-1A. Then there is a principal for English studies and a principal for Jewish studies for both the elementary school and the high school, total of four. There is a secretary for the high school Jewish program, who works only the mornings and a secretary for the high school English program who works only the afternoons. The central office has three secretaries on varying schedules, a part-time book keeper and a full-time Administrator whose job is "organizational." There are two assistant administrators as well. There is a cook and assistant who cook for both the elementary school and the high school. There is a maintenance person in every day who has a hired crew that come in twice a week for the "heavy" work. There is no resource room or librarian. There are 19-20 individual classes for about 350-400 students across the pre-school, elementary school and high school. There are 19 administrators plus a few called in as needed. And perhaps it should also be noted that the school is a "family business" and among the administrators are 5 members of the family.

It should be noted that the first school offers group medical insurance to the teachers and administrative staff, which the teachers pay for 100%. The second school offers no insurance to its teaching staff but does provide insurance for its senior administrators.

One thing becomes obvious: because of the dual program in English and Judaic studies, the administration is also doubled. One thing I also noted: the larger the school, the larger the number of different types of administrators the school hires. One school of over 600 students has a full-time administrator for fund raising, along with his secretary. He also gets "assistants" as needed. The larger the school, the more the breakdown by grade as regards administrators: there may be a supervisor for 1-3 grade, 4-5 grade and 6-8 grade, both for English and Judaic studies. There may be a curriculum specialist. There may be an IT specialist. The list goes on and on. And the more "senior administrative personnel" there is, the more secretarial help you have backing them up.

Let's see, a boys school with three classes per grade, Nursery through 8th grade has 660 students at 20 students per class. It has 9 teachers plus 9 assistants in the pre-school--18 teachers. It has 30 teachers from grades 1-5. It has 16-18 teachers grades 6-8. That's 66 teachers and some 30 plus in administrative staff. You do the math.

Yes, there must be some sort of administration in a school. The question may be how many and how much are they getting paid? Are they all necessary? What jobs are duplicated that don't have to be? And the really big question may be, what if, after going over the books carefully, we see that most or all of the administrative staff may actually be necessary? What if a fund raiser really is necessary, and you can't get one to work for less than $80-100 thousand a year? Hard questions we need to ask, and I don't think we are going to like some of the answers.


Bas~Melech said...

True, some yeshivas might have the problem of too many cooks (administrators, whatever...) but.
I don't know what kind of yeshiva your friend's kids go to, but some (particularly in NY) are enormous. One kid I know has more than 30 kids in her class, and there are 9 such classes at each grade level in her school! So I think it makes a lot of sense to have an administrator for each grade.

I spent a little time working in one very large school a while back. There was a lot of administration. I must say, the school ran like clockwork. It was incredible and beautiful to behold. I have no doubt that the quality of chinuch in that school benefited from the super organization and clear hierarchy of the people on top.

In contrast, a larger portion of my experience has been with smaller schools. One would think that facilitates more individual attention and less chance of getting lost in the crowd. The fact that there was only one english and one judaic principal with one assistant principal and one secretary for the whole school (for example -- the actual permutations were different in the various schools I worked with) should have helped avoid problems of diffusion of responsibility.
Unfortunately, it was not so. Among the few administrators, there is almost no organization or hierarchy, leading to conflicts, confusion, and of course waste.

In conclusion, I reiterate my refrain: The problem is not what they're spending money on, but how. A number one concern for these institutions needs to be efficiency. Someone needs to take a hard look at each school's system and figure out if what's going right and what needs streamlining.

Anonymous said...

9 grades per class at over 30 students???!!! That would make just first grade in that school beigger then my kids' entire school. Please, you have to say which school. I'm imagining one of the chassidishe schools like Satmar or Bobov because even the huge school closet to our house is only three classes per grade for the boys. If they are that big then I can see why maybe they need a supervisor just for each grade. That's about 200 teachers in a school that size, maybe more.Wow!

mother in israel said...

My daughter's jr./high school has 8 classes per grade. They have three "batim," of two grades each, with an assistant principal running each one. Each bayit also has a secretary. There is also a supervisor for each of the six grade levels, but she is just one of the homeroom teachers who gets paid for a few extra hours. There is a financial administrator, a general administrator, and the principal who is more of the spiritual head. The school is run very well, for the most part. I agree that smaller schools are often more of a "balagan."
There aer probably supervisors for each subject, but again, they are just teachers who work some additional hours to coordinate things.

Anonymous said...

It used to be that private school was only an option for rich families because - get this - private school is expensive. Suddenly we're expecting all kids, not just rich ones, to go to private schools. It's like suddenly deciding that everyone should live in a luxurious mansion - unrealistic. You either have to accept that not everyone can have luxuries, or you have to devalue the luxuries so that everyone can afford them.

Anonymous said...

I was the one who posted about the 20 administrators. But they earn a lot more than you think. Way, way, more than you think.

The head of school here started at $180,000 a few years ago, but I don't know what he earns now. The principal of the upper school started at $125,000 two years ago. The principal of the lower school was $115,000 a few years ago. I don't know about the early childhood director. I don't know what the school psychologist costs. I don't know what the guidance counselor costs (but probably in the lower range that was mentioned in the post). The nurse probably costs at least $50-60,000 because nurses are in great demand here in South Florida. There is also an IT person on staff, but I don't think he is full-time. There is a "Director of Advancement", but I have no idea about that one. There are various other "Directors" that I really don't know much about. There is a "Religious Coordinator" and a "Hebrew Coordinator", I have no idea what those are exactly. There are a few people in the business office, including the "Business Manager". And the top 5 each have an assistant, plus there is a receptionist at the front desk. There is also someone called "Director of Purchasing". This is a school with a total of about 400 students, so it isn't a mega-school that really requires so many administrators.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like a lot Mark but if you would look at a company that has 400 employees you would find a lot more managers and administrators then 20. It's a bearueacratic mindset that you need to have lots of managers in the middle and on top.

Orthonomics said...

Coming from public school where you have share resources, I find the frum schools to be top heavy. I'm sure all the staff have what to do and I've never thought of public schools as efficient. But, I think cooperation and streamlining could make for a more efficient, possibly less costly system.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure a less costlier system will "solve" the problem because it is so deep and so wide.

Anonymous said...

jake 4:12 "It sounds like a lot Mark but if you would look at a company that has 400 employees you would find a lot more managers and administrators then 20. It's a bureaucratic mindset that you need to have lots of managers in the middle and on top."

Are you kidding???? That's a completely incorrect comparison. A more correct comparison might be a company with 400 customers!