Mike Klein Online

Georgia Public Schools Employ More Staff Than Teachers

Mike Klein

Mike Klein

Georgia lawmakers filed about five dozen public education bills in this year’s General Assembly, bills that address funding formulas, enhancements to parental school choice, tax credits, ideas to preserve HOPE financial aid, additional days for pre-K education programs and many more.

Here is something lawmakers might want to think about:  Why was the employment growth rate for Georgia public school administrators and non-teaching staff nearly double the percentage growth rate in total student population between 1992 and 2009, at enormous real cost?  Also, why does Georgia employ more administrators and non-teaching staff than teachers?

This data is found in “The School Staffing Surge,” a new report from the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.  Georgia is named among 21 states in which administrators and non-teaching staff outnumbered teachers in 2009.  The District of Columbia is a state for purposes of this report, so that means teachers outnumber all other staffers in 30 remaining states.

Writing last fall in part one of “The School Staffing Surge,” author Benjamin Scafidi found that the public school system employment explosion did not have a direct relationship to improved pupil academic performance.  Scafidi relies on 1992 – 2009 data from the National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education.

Here are the primary Georgia-based findings, as reported by Scafidi:

  • Georgia public school student population grew 41 percent between 1992 and 2009, but there was a 74 percent increase in administrators and other non-teaching staff.
  • Georgia school districts employed 120,300 administrators and other non-teaching staff in 2009.  That number would have been 97,169 if non-teaching staff employment grew at exactly the same percentage rate as the student population between 1992 and 2009.
  • Georgia would have saved $925 million in non-teaching staff salaries if employment had grown at the same percentage rate as the student population.
  • Georgia teachers could have received $7,786 in pay raises.
  • In 2009, Georgia public schools had 1,461 more non-teaching staff than teachers.

Although Georgia makes the list of states that employed more staff than teachers in 2009, it is not near the top, ranked 18th among 21 states.  Virginia had 60,737 more staff than teachers and it received a distinction as the “Most Top-Heavy” state.  Among southern states, Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana also employed more staff than teachers.

Nationally, the report finds that public school systems could have saved $24.3 billion in 2009, based on a $40,000 per year per employee cost for non-teaching staff.  The definition for staff is, literally, anyone who is not a lead teacher from superintendents to bus drivers, maintenance staff and anyone else on a public school payroll. “That $24.3 billion would be annual recurring savings in public schools that could be used for other worthy purposes,” the report said.

Writing in the executive summary, Scafidi concludes, in part, “One should ask whether the significant resources used to finance employment increases could have been spent better elsewhere … The burden of proof is now on those who still want to maintain or even increase the dramatically larger staffing levels in public schools.”

Click here to read the complete report and access several tables with state-by-state data.

(Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.)

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March 7, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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