That’s a gap of 38 percent between the complex areas with the lowest and highest per-pupil personnel expenses.
This year for the first time as part of its effort to examine government spending, Civil Beat was able to obtain Education Department salaries by complex area and school. We analyzed the salary and location information of the department’s 22,009 employees and found the total personnel costs for each of the state’s 15 geographic school areas.
Our analysis found that the Campbell-Kapolei complex area spends the least on employee salaries, at $4,901 per pupil.
Kailua-Kaleheo spends the most per-pupil on salaries, at $6,557.
Here is a table of the salary expenses by complex area:
Total Per Pupil
CA Pearl City-Waipahu
The discrepancies are largely because of decisions made at the school level, said Kailua-Kalaheo Complex Area Superintendent Suzanne Mulcahy.
For example, she has a couple of schools in her complex area where the principal and teachers opt for small class sizes, which increases personnel costs at those schools.
“One school could be spending 95 percent of its funding on personnel, whereas another may be spending only 80 percent,” Mulcahy said.
The amount of support the complex area superintendent provides to schools can also impact school-level salary costs, she said. A complex area superintendent could opt to hire a couple of highly efficient employees who can travel to all the schools in the complexes and meet certain school-level needs that way, for example.
Lena Tran contributed to this story by analyzing the data provided by the Department of Education.
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