- Jan 2019
With $50 million going to people who do not have contact with students, the data belies the district’s branding of “Students First” and “Team DPS.”
The bias that has been cited by critics wishing to undermine the general argument of this article (and similar articles, blogs, social media claims, etc), is that figures being shared for expenditures on non-teaching staff are misleading because they include funding positions such as nurses who are in schools every day providing vital services directly to students. I believe this is critique is factual.
On the other hand, there are claims that the total amount spent on administrative staff is dramatically under-reported as DPS classifies certain staff as school-based who in fact serve in roles that are central admin in nature. Whether this is intentional deception or aligned with standard accounting practices probably depends on who you ask. Either way, I believe this claim is also true. At the risk of offering annotations that qualify as "what aboutism" I include the point here because it is possible that the amounts that critics cite as being spent on staff that do not interact with students may actually be significantly less than what DPS is actually spending.
in early 2008, there were only three people handling press relations for the district. There are now eleven–making $700,000 a year. The full communications shop numbers thirty-seven, with a payroll of nearly $2 million.
In an age of shrinking News Room budgets, there is huge power to having a strong Communications department as reporters of local news can be reduced to writers who are expected to crank out an unrealistic amount of content and therefore rely on press releases for turnkey stories. I have first-hand knowledge of this dynamic: when I worked a marketing internship, I saw my exact language appear in the local paper under a reporter's byline multiple times.
While there is clear benefit to the District's administration when it comes to exerting ownership of the public narrative, it is worth asking how this serves students and whether it is in fact in the public's best interest to use public funds in order to manipulate the news coverage the public relies on for learning about the district's efficacy in educating area youth.