New Jersey’s Administrative Costs AreVery Favorable with Other States
The numbers are in. New Jersey public schools have one of the lowest administrative costs in the country according to an independent study from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
With just nine percent of our school budgets allotted to administration, New Jersey joins Massachusetts, New York, Hawaii and West Virginia in keeping administrative spending below 45 other states.
The NCES study underscores the fact that New Jersey’s chief education officers are putting the right emphasis on our public school budgets – on students rather than administration.
So, how are New Jersey’s chief education officers lowering administrative costs? They are doing it through sharing and collaboration with other districts.
Let’s take transportation for example. Districts are sharing buses, routes and costs. They are leveraging their buying power by making joint purchases for gasoline and diesel.
Bulk purchasing certainly saves money, which is why districts come together to buy natural gas and electricity. Some districts also share cable and telephone service and website design and maintenance. Districts are even sharing administrative office space, as well as administrators and other specialized personnel.
Student programs can be costly. That’s why many districts share special education services, food services, before and after care at the elementary levels, and co-curricular and sports programs.
Districts are not only sharing with each other. They are also sharing expenses with the town where they’re located, everything from janitorial and maintenance to snow removal.
New Jersey has several success stories and examples of how to save money. The Sterling Regional High School District, in Camden County, is providing technology services for 60-to-70 smaller districts through the South Jersey Technology Partnership. It’s an outgrowth of the high school’s technology center that is staffed by district employees.
The Sussex County Regional Cooperative provides transportation for students in over 70 districts. The Cooperative meets a need by transporting students who do not have other options. These include students with disabilities, those attending vocational schools, nonpublic schools and other programs.
In Bergen County, 23 districts came together to share banking services. The districts went from small accounts to major investors, which dramatically increased their interest earnings.
Kudos to the Garden State chief education officers and their school boards! Over the past few years, their relentless endeavors drove administrative costs down successfully. That’s a tremendous achievement for New Jersey educational leaders while facing increased accountability, paperwork and other demands.
The trend is clear – New Jersey’s public school administrative expenditures compare very favorably with other states. Let’s continue our commitment to learn from each other. Working together, our districts are stronger than ever.
The NCES report covers administrative expenses necessary for the day-to-day operation of schools and their districts. Expenditures included student support services, instructional staff support, general administration (superintendents and board of education and staff), school administration (principals, school office and staff), operations and maintenance, student transportation, and other support services. All related salaries, benefits, supplies and purchased services are included in the figures. Long-term debt obligations of the school system were not included.
The NCES, located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Services, is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education. The NCES produces an annual document analyzing the cost of public education. The latest report was published in November 2012 and is titled, “Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2009–10 (Fiscal Year 2010).”