This report from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute is stunning.
Currently, 302 DPI employees, measured as full-time equivalents, out of 634 are paid fully by the federal government — a dramatic increase over years past.
A look back over the past two decades at the department shows that, while DPI has remained approximately the same size (total employment is actually down 4 percent since 1995), federal influence has grown swiftly and steadily.
In 1995, 185 DPI employees were paid by the federal government — 28 percent of the total. Today, the 302 workers in DPI essentially on the federal payroll amount to 47 percent of the total.
The bureaucracy alone that is needed to keep track of all of this is immense and complicated. Some DPI workers were paid from as many as seven separate federal funding sources, according to 2014-’15 records reviewed by WPRI.
But 45 percent of federally paid DPI staffers appear to have little or no direct impact on educating children. That group of 135 employees included administrators, accountants, attorneys, grants specialists, budget analysts, auditors, operations management, clerical assistants and others. Within DPI alone, there were eight grants accountants and specialists earning a combined $464,736 in 2014-’15, according to state records.
That, of course, does not include anyone processing or tracking federal money or keeping track of grant requirements in either Washington, D.C., or at the local school level throughout Wisconsin. Many districts employ people whose primary job is to manage federal grant dollars and make sure they don’t run afoul of federal rules.
The West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, for instance, hired a grants specialist in the fall of 2015, at a salary of $112,000, to manage its grants program after years of miscues had cost the financially beleaguered district hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties.