Bill could boost reporting of school admin costs, advocates say

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published 17-Feb-2011

Legislation to provide greater transparency in the reporting of school administrative costs gained House subcommittee approval at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City on Thursday (February 17).

House Bill 1372, by state Rep. Corey Holland, would require that the salaries of staff serving a superintendent, elementary superintendent or any assistant superintendent be calculated as administrative overhead.

Under current law, only the superintendent’s staff salaries are included as an administrative expense.

“This is just a simple way to ensure the public knows the true amount of tax funding going to administrative overhead at a local school,” said Holland, a Marlow Republican who is a former teacher. “It’s just common sense that all administrative support staff salaries should be included in the reporting of administrative expenses.”

Holland has also co-authored another bill that would improve reporting of school expenses.

That measure, Senate Bill 664 (by state Sen. Eddie Fields), would allow schools to report up to 40 percent of a superintendent’s salary as non-administrative services if the administrator “spends part of the time” performing duties such as teaching in the classroom, serving as a principal, counselor, or library media specialist.

“In many small rural schools, the superintendent teaches class and drives buses, but his entire salary is reported as administrative overhead,” Holland said. “I believe schools’ financial reporting should account for the actual work performed, and this bill would make clear that part of a superintendent’s work may be for other duties.”

Under current state law, schools with an average daily attendance of more than 1,500 students cannot spend more than 6 percent of their budget on administration.

For schools with 500 to 1,500 students, the limit is 8 percent. And for districts with fewer than 500 students, up to 10 percent of the district budget can go for administrative overhead.

“I believe the caps on overhead are appropriate, but there are too many loopholes in current law,” Holland said. “Large schools are able to shift administrative support costs into non-administration categories while small schools are penalized if they have a superintendent who does several jobs. My bills will provide greater transparency and better reporting to the public.”

House Bill 1372 passed out of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education today. It will next go before the full House Appropriations and Budget Committee.