Team Adams is vowing to target fat at the city’s Department of Education, and a report last week by The Post’s Susan Edelman shows why it should waste no time: Over the past seven years, the department’s budget ballooned a jaw-dropping 60 percent — from $20 billion to $32 billion, plus another $5 billion in pension costs.
Outlays for central-administration educrats and school-support personnel soared about $87 million and $180 million, respectively. The combined headcount grew 44 percent, with the number of managers, analysts, supervisors and specialists soaring to 5,100 from 3,500 since 2014. More than 2,000 drew six-figure salaries, including 44 who got more than $200,000.
All while enrollment figures were falling — and with no major benefit for kids. (De Blasio & Co. may crow about small increases in high-school-graduation rates, but those came as standards were lowered.)
No wonder new Schools Chancellor David Banks rhetorically asked these managers: If “your job disappeared tomorrow, would that change anything that’s going on in any of our schools?”
Banks says for all the billions the city spends, it’s “outrageous” and “a betrayal” that 65 percent of blacks and Hispanics never achieve academic proficiency. He’s spot on.
“If everyone at the Department of Education went home and all the kids just went to school you could get those same results,” Banks charged.
The new boss vows to relocate personnel “closer to where the action is.” But shifting them won’t suffice; he’ll also need to trim that bloated headcount. And if he can produce meaningful savings, perhaps they can be used to benefit students, rather than adults — say, by helping successful charter schools grow.
Adams appears not only to share Banks’ view but to believe similar waste pervades city government and is looking to trim elsewhere, too.
“We are not giving taxpayers their money’s worth every day, and that’s what we are going to change,” he fumes. He vows to root out “waste, fraud and abuse” via a new Mayor’s Office of Risk Management and Compliance, which will set its sights first on the Department of Correction and the New York City Housing Authority — along with DOE.
Adams speaks like a smart businessman, railing that a number of agencies are “just taking taxpayers’ dollars” and “not producing a good product.” Truth is, while the school system is hemorrhaging dollars, Rikers and much of public housing are downright hellholes. Both have federal court-appointed monitors because of years-long mismanagement.
Correction spends an astonishing $566,539 per inmate annually but can’t seem to fix broken doors and locks in city jails. Inmates and public-housing residents are subjected to inhumane conditions, such as overcrowding, violence, heat/hot water issues, mold, lead paint and repair backlogs.
Adams, Banks and the rest of the team clearly have their work cut out for them and not just at DOE.