Confused on the math

by David Safier

I read the Star's story about the latest round of TUSD cuts. In the middle of the article, it says,

The cuts are expected to save the district an additional $10 million.

For the life of me, I don't see how the cuts mentioned in the Star will come anywhere near $10 million.

The story focused on projected cuts of 19 teachers and 10 assistant principals. Then it mentioned cuts of "undetermined number of counselors, librarians and administrative workers." So let's do the math. If you figure a teacher's total salary plus benefits come to about $75,000 — I actually think that's a bit high — cutting 19 teachers will save about $1.5 million. Then, 10 assistant principals at, say $130,000, will save another $1.3 million.

So far, we've got a combined savings of $2.8 million. That leaves $7.2 million in unexplained cuts. It would take axing 96 more people with $75,000 salary/benefit packages to come up with what's left. Does the district plan dramatic cuts in its "undetermined number of counselors, librarians and administrative workers"? If so, it should say so.

There was also a unanimous Board decision to "examine the option of outsourcing human resources and other services such as payroll, transportation, ground maintenance and custodians in an effort to save more money." Outsourcing can save some money (usually because the people hired by the private companies make less than district employees), but I can't see it amounting to multiple millions of dollars a year.

The District's chief financial officer said the actual number of cuts hasn't been determined. But someone isn't coming clean with the public — and possibly with the Board — if only about a quarter of the projected cuts are specified. Call it softening the blow. Call it obfuscation. Unless the Star reporting left out most of the story, TUSD is hiding the real nature of the hits to the schools.

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