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Is the new superintendent overpaid?
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
Another Option for Minneapolis School Board Voters (2004 General Election)
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004

Subj:      Re: [Mpls] Overpaid Superintendent Peebles
Date:     8/3/2004 1:21:09 AM Central Daylight Time
From: (Doug Mann)

There were over 100 candidates for the job. And the advertised salary that drew all of those wannabe school superintendents was less than $200,000.  However, if Peebles is a good fit for the kind of work the board wants her to do, $215,000 plus the usual fringe benefits is a real bargain.

Peebles is getting paid big money to carry out a plan to semi-privatize and de-unionize the school system that David Jennings proposed early this year.  

What makes Peebles' expertise so valuable? The Cleveland Public Schools began clearing out and shutting down its district-run schools several years ago. Peebles has some experience in upper management there, and received further training in how to run a school district the corporate way from the Broad foundation superintendent school.

In Cleveland of the late 1990s, and today, most students in the poor performing public schools couldn't / can't choose to go to one of the district's better schools.  Ditto for Minneapolis and all of the other cities in the US with lousy schools.  Despite the promises of unlimited choice for students who are being left behind, "No Child Left Behind" does not require school districts to overenroll their better schools.

Cleveland didn't originally sponsor charter schools. It had a voucher program. The money that ordinarily went to the public schools in the form of per-pupil aid from the state of Ohio followed students into private schools that participated in the voucher program. The vouchers covered tuition at low-priced private schools. Most of the better low-priced private schools were run by the catholic church. However, a majority of students fleeing the public schools had no where to go but "voucher schools," so called because they were funded primarily by the vouchers.

Like Cleveland's voucher schools, charter schools in Minneapolis can tap into most of the same revenue streams as the schools that are owned and operated by the district. However, the district also gets a lot of money from property taxes. Some of that money pays for services to all students in the district, such as bus transportation. But a lot of it is spent on the district's own schools. The district acquires school buildings with bonds that are paid for through property tax levies. And there is a considerable amount of money left over to put into school operations. And there is money from property taxes dedicated to routine operating expenses, such as money from the "better schools referendum," which is supposed to be spent on cutting class sizes. The district's better schools get the lion's share of money that goes into the district's slush fund to cover the higher cost of teacher salaries, etc.

The charter schools are generally run at a lower cost than the district-run schools because they don't have unions and they pay their non-managerial employees less than the district, on average.  Once the enrollment situation stabilizes in the district run schools, the district will be able to cherry pick many of the experienced charter school teachers, and the charter schools will generally hire teachers with no experience. The better public schools will generally be a lot better than the better charter schools.

-Doug Mann, King Field
Mann for School Board