Incoming schools Chancellor David Banks faces a Herculean challenge over his vow to shake up the Education Department and its massive bureaucracy.
In the past seven years under Mayor de Blasio, the DOE’s annual budget has grown from $ 20 billion to $ 31.6 billion, the size of Peruvian government spending, according to the city’s Independent Budget Office. . That’s not counting an additional $ 5 billion in retirement costs.
The overwhelming number of managers, analysts, supervisors and specialists – who never step foot in the classroom – working at Tweed, the downtown headquarters of the DOE, or in the borough or district offices. district, rose to 5,100 from 3,500 since 2014, according to IBO.
Of these educators, some 2,240 received salaries between $ 100,000 and $ 200,000 last year. 44 others raised more than $ 200,000, from payroll records provided by the Empire Center monitoring show.
In his acceptance speech after Mayor-elect Eric Adams hired him to run the nation’s largest school system, Banks addressed the bloat as he denounced the DOE, noting that 65% of black and Hispanic children are missing math and reading skills.
“It’s a betrayal and we should be outraged by it,” Banks said.
“If everyone in the Ministry of Education went home and all the children went to school, you could achieve the same results, ”he accused. “So what’s the added value of having thousands of people working at Tweed, thousands of people in these high paying positions? ”
Banks said he would move staff “closer to where the action is taking place.”
“This is the question that will be asked of everyone who works in this department: If you leave and your job disappears tomorrow, would that change something that is happening in one of our schools? Does it change the life of a young person. … Because if not, why do we continue to support this? Change is coming.
The predecessors of the banks have also pledged to revise the DOE with mixed results.
“Every chancellor comes in with promises to cut the bloat, then finds it difficult to do so – or finds bureaucracy advantageous to strengthen his power, ”said Brooklyn College and CUNY Grad Center education professor David Bloomfield. “On the other hand, Banks has always been school-oriented. So if anyone can focus on tutoring, instead of centralizing authority, it would be him.
He added: “The Chancellor should walk around the buildings, see who is sitting in the chairs and check if their work is essential to his goals or has become superfluous.”
DOE officials insisted that “every central staff member is essential” to supporting students and schools, providing legal, IT, financial, procurement and personnel services. Field offices support academic, budgetary, human resources and operations planning, they said.
While the DOE’s overall budget has swelled, the proportion of central and school support costs has remained stable, the DOE notes, rising from 2.5% to 2.7%.
But outgoing Queens councilor Barry Grodenchik, a member of the education committee, applauded Banks’ zeal to control spending.
“I was happy to hear him talk about attacking the bureaucracy. I think no one can say that we are getting our money’s worth for the education we receive, ”said Grodenchik.
DOE insiders expect Banks to eliminate “executive superintendents,” created in mid-2018 by former Chancellor Richard Carranza to oversee community superintendents required by law to oversee schools.
The salary of the executive superintendent has increased from $ 190,000 to $ 209,000. Benefits add 42%, or $ 87,780, to everyone’s annual cost, the IBO said.
Carranza distributed generous raises to preferred leaders. He’s also waived job postings and other rules for hiring friends in California and Texas for six-figure jobs, critics have complained – including a woman he moved in with after he quit, and the former head of a company that has made millions in digital systems sales. to schools in New York.
“Why does a group of 32 district superintendents need another level of supervision when there are vice chancellors above them?” Asked Staten Island city councilor Joseph Borelli, also a member of the education committee. “You must be wondering what they actually produce for children.”
DOE spokesperson Nathaniel Styer responded, “Our executive superintendents play a key role in overseeing our districts and schools, ensuring that academic and social supports are provided to students who need them. They are phenomenal public servants.
Since Chancellor Meisha Porter replaced Carranza, who abruptly resigned in February, the initial nine executive superintendents have quietly fallen to six. Two have retired and two have moved to a second location. “We recently consolidated a few portfolios to be more efficient, ”said Styer.
But in August, Porter appointed Marisol Rosales, then Manhattan’s executive superintendent, to the newly created post of senior vice chancellor with a salary of $ 241,000. Rosales has been tasked with focusing on “academics, early childhood education, enrollment, school climate, and well-being,” the DOE said.
The Chancellor’s salary is set at $ 363,346.
DOE spokeswoman Jenna Lyle disputed Banks’ accusation that the mayor citing Karl Marx mismanaged the gigantic agency.
“Every dollar in our budget improves educational opportunities for the one million children our city serves and under this mayor’s tenure,” Lyle said in a statement. “Over the past eight years, we’ve made bold investments to put students first and the results will be felt for generations through greater equity between schools, higher graduation rates and higher test scores. , quality early childhood education for all, and more. ”
As president and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation, Banks oversaw a network of six boys-only public schools, grades 6 to 12, one in each New York City borough and one in Newark.
In a pick that signals a possible conflict with the city’s teachers’ union, Banks appointed Daniel Weisberg, CEO of a nonprofit focused on teacher quality and former DOE work manager under the former mayor. Bloomberg, as his first vice-chancellor. , a position that currently earns $ 241,000.
Additional reports by Conor Skelding