Wow. Just wow. The Daily News today digs up some stupendous salaries being paid by the Department of Education to a slew of "private contractors" who have been brought in to help save the DoE money. Before we get to the actual money, here's how DoE spokesman David Cantor describes the costs to the News: "For a one-time charge of $17 million, we're implementing internal restructuring that will cut at least $200 million annually from our administrative budget to give to schools."

Cutting $200 million from the DoE's $15 billion dollar budget seems like a great idea, right? But chew on this: Schools chancellor Klein is payed $250,000 bucks a year by the DoE to run the whole enormous system. Meanwhile Sajan George, a consultant hired without competitive bidding to help restructure the DoE's finances, is being paid $450 per hour for a total of $1.7 million over 18 months. And that's not all. There are quite a few more contractors who have been brought in for similarly absurd salaries to clean up the books. Some of them include:

•Michelle Lewis, Setting up system for principals to choose programs and services $1.3 million

•Erin Covington, Overhauling budgeting process $1.3 million

•Cory Schupp, Integrating financial accounting with operations $1.3 million

•Andrew Thung, Assisting with budget overhaul$1.3 million

•Nate Arnett, Chief restructuring officer for school food and student transportation$1 million

As City Council Education Chairman Robert Jackson put it to the News "Quite frankly, those individuals are making more money than any city employee in New York."

It isn't that we don't think people should get salaries that high, we understand that these things happen all the time (though more often in the private sector), the problem we have with those salaries is that they were awarded without competitive bidding. Jackson says that he will hold hearings on the contracts in the Fall. In the meantime we guess we'll just have to cross our fingers and hope these hires really do save the DoE some money. If not, well, there are going to be a lot of unhappy school kids those guys are going to be accountable for.

Photograph of the Department of Education (aka the Tweed Courthouse) and Woolworth building by Jen Chung.