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School hiring top-heavy, study says

Over five years, the ranks of Florida school administrators swelled by half _ a rate more than twice that for teachers, a tax research group said Monday.

The number of teachers rose 23 percent, while district-level administrative positions went up 54 percent from the 1984-85 school year to 1989-90, said the study by Florida TaxWatch.

During that time, the number of students grew 18.5 percent, from nearly 1.7-million to nearly 2-million.

Education officials disputed that the schools are top-heavy, questioned the study's timing, and said its definition of administrator included many people who directly serve students.

For example, it included school psychologists who often are hired at the district level and work in several schools, Department of Education spokeswoman Mary Ann Havriluk said.

The study dealt with percentage of change, not numbers of people hired. Overall, teachers far outnumber administrators, and the number hired far exceeded the number of new administrators, Havriluk said.

The number of teachers went from 91,939 to 113,083 and district-level administrators grew from 2,824 to 4,356, the study said.

"While the increase in teacher positions is consistent with the growth in students, increases in district office administrative staff is excessive at more than twice the rate," said the report by TaxWatch president and chief executive officer Dominic Calabro.

Havriluk disputed that the growth was excessive, but also said there has been a sharp change since the period covered by the study.

As $1.3-billion has been slashed from the education budget in the last one and a half years, administrative ranks have been cut most severely, she said.

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