MISD administration reorganized

Mercer Island schools will be reorganizing at the top next fall as efforts continue to create a cost-efficient, financially secure district.

The Mercer Island School Board recently approved a resolution to reorganize the upper levels of the administration, following a review by the Puget Sound Educational Services District. The review outlined where the district spends money, how those spending patterns match with other districts similar in size and spending, and what can be done to make departments more cost-effective.

Areas where the district out-spends comparison districts included: central administrative staff, business services and principal staff. The review found that the district is very good at managing expenses in the area of grounds and maintenance, while the cost of the central administration’s support of learning and teaching is average.

Commissioned by Superintendent Gary Plano because one had never been done, the review led to a full restructuring to create new positions and realign job descriptions.

According to the report, the district spent approximately $9,559 per student during the 2007-08 fiscal year for an overall cost of $36.8 million, based on OSPI F196 activity-based expenditure reports.

The review found that the district outspends its comparison districts, such as Vashon Island, Riverview, Tahoma and Bainbridge, in central administrative staff by $213 per student, making the administration at Mercer Island some of the best paid in the area. The cost of central administrative services to support learning and teaching in the district is average compared to other districts, according to the review. The total money spent in that area was $1.1 million, or $284 per student during 2007-08. According to the review, this is an average cost for districts similar to Mercer Island.

Another area where the district is above average is its cost of business office services. The district spent $710,000 in this area, or $812 per student. According to the ESD, that is $63 more per student than in other comparison districts.

“Stated as percentages, MISD’s business office costs are 153 percent of the average of comparison districts,” said the report.

The district also has a higher number of principals and associate principals, employing 10 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff. According to the review, the cost of school principal services is $2.2 million or $565 per student, higher than average.

“This cost per student represents the highest cost of salaries and benefits for principals of all comparative districts, and also of surrounding local districts,” said the report. Since the report was issued, the district has reduced the principal positions by two FTE.

The review found that the district is very effective in the costs of grounds, maintenance and utilities. The district spends $3.3 million or $851 per student, a cost that has increased over the past five years, but one that is still lower then the average cost among comparison districts.

Under Resolution #526, approved by the School Board at the Feb. 12 meeting, the restructuring will take effect for the 2009-10 school year.

The new positions include an executive director of learning and technology services and executive director of human resources and business services, both which report to the superintendent. The coordinator of information systems, coordinator of budget, director of finance, director of elementary learning, director of secondary learning and director of special education report to one of the two new executive director positions.

Pay levels for the executive director and coordinator of information systems positions have yet to be determined, according to the district, but the other positions will maintain pay levels similar to those in the district now.

The superintendent’s office has said it would release more information concerning who will be filling which positions and how the new structure relates to the current district administration in coming weeks.

For a copy of the PSESD report and Resolution #526, visit the district’s Web site at

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