Desperate Times

9 Jul

I’ve noticed a number of articles in the past year with the same theme. Both of these blurbs, representative of the trend, are from the June 28 Leader:

  • Crystal City Administrator Andy Hixson resigned his post recently. He will not be replaced (for now) and his duties will be carried out by the city staff and department heads.
  • The principal of Crystal City High School retired. He will not be replaced, and his duties will be fulfilled by the elementary school principal.

Most of the time, this type of article is about a school administrator, but we see them in municipal governments, too. When an employee leaves, they find out that, hey, we don’t need to replace that guy. Even in Arnold, where city administrator Matt Unrein resigned, the police chief is going to temporarily fill his duties. I find that arrangement odd, and wonder how a police chief can do his job and be city administrator, unless both jobs don’t require full-time attention.

A silver lining of our current economic times is that they have forced government entities to downsize from their almost universally inflated levels.  We can see here (click “staffing ratios” on the left) that, statewide, the Missouri student-to-administrator ratio has increased slightly (meaning fewer adminstrators), by 3%, from 189:1 to 195:1, since 2008. Meanwhile, in the Fox C-6 District, to take a large local district, the ratio has remained static at a rather higher (higher = better) 271:1.

Illinois has been more aggressive than this, at least in one regard (of course, a big government state like Illinois is going to have a lot more fat to cut). After the governor first tried to eliminate all 44 regional school superintendents, an elected job that sounds quite unnecessary, he signed a bill to ax nine of them. But surprise, surprise, the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools doesn’t really like the idea.

Hopefully, when the economy turns around (sometime after Obama leaves office), voters will resist moves to beef back up government staffing levels, and say “if you could do without them then, why do you need them now?”

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