In these times of tight budgets for schools, how much should a district be spending on a building for their central office staff? The system one county west of here is getting some flack for paying $26 million for a new administrative headquarters. And they’re not alone.

The overly large system that I work for recently bought a vacant office building and this fall will be moving in many of our central office folks. In the next five years they plan to construct a second building next door and move the rest of us in there. All of that is supposed to cost somewhere north of $50 million.

So, even if that amount is relatively small compared to our total annual budget, is it a valid expense when schools are holding classes in trailers (er… learning cottages)? That’s not a rhetorical question. It’s one on which I’m actually split.

On one hand we have schools that are in a long line for repairs and renovations. On the other, we have a central office staff that’s in fourteen buildings (maybe more) spread all over the county. Most of them are like the one in which I work, former elementary schools with very neglected plumbing and electrical (and jerry-rigged air conditioning).

I don’t expect any sympathies for my work space. However, when schools are being told to operate more like business, there aren’t many companies that would last very long with this kind of inefficiency. Of course, there are also critics who think all of us working in central office are a waste of space to start with.

I’ll quit complaining now. :-)