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Administrative Spending in Tennessee K-12 Education

Administrative Spending

August 2014

Authors: Linda Wesson and Susan Mattson

Legislative Brief

This report looks at the administrative costs of Tennessee school districts. In 2012-13, Tennessee districts spent $868 million on administrative costs. This represents between 6 and 17 percent of individual district current expenditures including school board, office of the superintendent, central office business administration, and other central office and support services at the district level, and office of the principal at the school administration level. The statewide rate for administrative spending was 10.5 percent. The median, or midpoint, of districts’ administrative spending was 9.4 percent. Over the past 15 years, statewide administrative spending increased from 8.6 to 10.5 percent of total current spending on K-12 education. Total spending on K-12 education increased by 83percent (or 31 percent when adjusted for inflation) during the same time period. The report does not consider the cost-effectiveness of districts’ spending, in which district or school outcomes (student academic achievement and growth, graduation rates, etc.) are analyzed relative to administrative costs. Without further analysis of such outcomes, identification of above-average administrative spending by itself cannot be evaluated as appropriate or inappropriate.