The school board spent $75.83 million on instruction in 1992. That amount was $94.62 million in 2002, an increase of nearly 25 percent, according to the report.
In 1992, the school board spent $9.85 million on administration. That amount jumped to $15 million in 2002, an increase of a little more than 53 percent, the report states.
The Public Policy Institute classifies administration as business office duties, central office functions and school site administrators and support spending.
Instructional expenses are salaries for teachers and instructional staff, according to the institute.
The Policy Institute is a "nonpartisan public policy research and education organization that focuses on state policy issues," according to its Web site, www.mdpolicy.org.
Throughout the state, 20 of the 24 public school systems increased administrative spending at a greater percentage than instructional spending, the report states.
"Maryland's school districts, as a whole, are becoming increasingly top-heavy, with ever-increasing amounts of their budgets being dedicated to administrative overhead, rather than to the classroom," the report states.
Carol Mowen, the school board's public information officer, said Friday that the report used different numbers than what the school board uses, which come from the Maryland State Department of Education. The report's information came from the U.S. Census Bureau.
"Depending on how different costs ... are calculated, you're going to have different results ..." Mowen said.
She said the school board would need more time to determine whether the report's numbers were accurate, how much of the school system's budget makes up administrative costs and other spending information.
School Board Chief Operating Officer William Blum said in an e-mail statement Friday that he tried to call the Public Policy Institute several times in three days, but his messages weren't returned.
"Therefore, I cannot verify the accuracy of the data," Blum wrote.
Blum, however, wrote that based on the numbers in the report, Washington County's administrative expense per student is 12 percent less than the state average.
"In short, Washington County has done an excellent job of keeping administrative costs down while meeting increased regulatory expectations and achieving stellar student results," Blum wrote.
County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said this week he would feel more comfortable relying on what the school board says rather than on the report's statistics.
"I would probably rely on the school board's expertise to make these evaluations," Snook said.
The county is the main funding source for the school system.
Commissioner Doris J. Nipps said that the school board's administrative costs concerned her during the start of her first term on the board in the early to mid-1990s. Administrative costs took up more than 5 percent of the budget at that time, she said.
Nipps said she and fellow board member Tom Berry worked to get that spending down to the 4 percent range in 1994 and 1995, where it stayed for the next several years.
But the school board's focus on controlling administrative spending began to wane toward the end of her time on the board.
"The last couple of years, we were working on trying to get the teachers salaries up and not looking closely at the administrative costs," Nipps said.
Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said he's afraid that some reporting requirements of the federal government's No Child Left Behind Act would lead to more spending on administration.
"Obviously, our focus needs to be on the classroom," Wivell said.
The law calls for increased levels of collecting and reporting student and school performance information by schools to gauge yearly progress.
Commissioner John C. Munson said he thought the school board employed too many administrators at its Central Office and that some positions should be eliminated.
"I personally don't know why we need that many administrators in that office," Munson said. "I think we need to get the money back into the classroom - not only for teachers, but for books and (other instructional materials)."