As a result of an article disclosing staff salaries published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, much has been written regarding the cost and role of school administration. Missing from these articles, and the subsequent debate among anonymous bloggers, is the positive impact that these individual staff members have on public education. In this message, I will focus on administration at the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.
Administrative positions at the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (SCCOE) are state and federally mandated or they are essential to the delivery of services to the 38,000 Santa Cruz County students, their teachers and families.
The SCCOE, like all county offices of education statewide, is required to provide fiscal oversight to school districts and additional fiscal services to the districts at their request. Oversight is not limited to monitoring district budgets, but encompasses keeping districts apprised of changing laws and economic factors that affect their schools. The COE does not manage or have control over district budget management; that is the responsibility of each individual district’s elected board of trustees. Included in Business Department functions is payroll processing. Our Payroll Department processes monthly payroll warrants for the 8,000 full- and part-time employees in all county schools and districts.
Another primary function of the SCCOE is to provide cost-effective and efficient services and support to the districts, schools, teachers and students throughout the county, particularly those programs that are too costly for districts to operate independently. It is my personal belief, as well as a goal of SCCOE administrators, that we take leadership in assisting districts’ efforts in systemic reform that results in increased student achievement. We do this by promoting proven best practices and creating new programs that advance student learning opportunities and youth development in line with 21st century requirements.
Primary functions of our Student Services Division include:
- reducing the dropout rate through Alternative Education Programs
- increasing retention and improving novice teacher effectiveness through the New Teacher Project’s training and mentoring services.
- providing career training to over 4,000 students countywide through the Regional Occupational Program’s Career Technical Education (CTE)
- providing cost-effective special education programs for students with low-incidence special needs.
- enhancing environmental awareness and providing the experience of spending a week in an outdoor program to fifth graders in our Outdoor Science School
- creating youth employment programs
- offering educational support programs to homeless and foster youth.
- developing corrective programs focused on truancy and drug and alcohol abuse.
Teachers throughout the county receive teacher credentialing services, a benefit that extends to the hiring school districts through credential verification and employee fingerprinting services provided by our Human Resources Department.
The Educational Services Division provides staff training to teachers, administrators, and office staff for all the county’s schools. These data-driven training programs cover disciplines from use of technology, curriculum and instruction, the arts, academic interventions, migrant educational programs, the County Science Fair, and student academic competitions. Furthermore, our Child Development Programs are essential to parents requiring assistance in procuring child care and to address countywide preschool needs in the county.
As a liaison to the state and federal governments, the SCCOE is better able to leverage resources and achieve a greater return on investment. Partnerships and collaborations fostered by SCCOE administrators with local school districts, businesses, non-profits and public agencies are prolific and save money for the local school districts while both creating and enhancing services to students and their families.
California taxpayers have spoken through the election process and, for many, increasing funding to education in the current economy is not a top priority. At the SCCOE, we believe a quality education is a fundamental, inalienable right. California has among the largest class sizes, lowest per-pupil expenditures, fewest nurses and counselors and highest demands on teachers and administrators. Our goal is to overcome these challenges by providing our students, families and educational community cost-efficient, creative, data-driven and researched opportunities. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education has fewer managers now than it had in 2005 and yet, as the state’s funding contribution has decreased significantly, administrators’ duties have expanded exponentially. Salaries do not begin to tell the story. The services, results and data do.