Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Trimming the Fat

It's tough to cut down on administrative costs. I remember when NYC Schools Chancellor Klein cut down on teacher indoctrination days. It seemed like a good idea. But then when he reinstated them, and added more, its impressiveness withered.

When he removed levels of administration, it seemed like another good idea. Of course, when he added more layers than he removed, I once again failed to perceive the net improvement.

How do you resolve such conundrums?

Well, in this case, the Chancellor has determined the best way to eliminate waste is through a no-bid contract. That will cost the city 17 million dollars.

In St. Louis, the company only charged 5 million, but was able to cut costs substantially. How did they do this?

It cut $79 million from the district's bureaucracy, but spawned controversy by firing 1,400 nonteaching employees, outsourcing food, custodial and warehousing contracts and shutting 21 schools, many in predominately black neighborhoods.

Sounds like just what we need, right? Well, proven experience doesn't come cheap. That's why 7 individuals alone are getting paid 1 to 1.7 million each for this service.

UFT President Randi Weingarten now says no-bid contracts are another reason to re-examine mayoral control, which sunsets in 2009. I couldn't agree more, and I hope she gets some mileage out of this, unlike the debacle that succeeded her challenge to slimeball John Stossel.

It's unfortunate Ms. Weingarten didn't have the foresight to examine mayoral control before having given it the UFT's crucial support.

Thanks to Schoolgal, Norm, and Patrick
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