Thursday, October 27, 2016

Have school districts hired more educators or administrators in recent years?

Out of nearly 8,000 school district positions added since 1998, 7,266 (82.8 percent) have been what a legislative study committee identified as “direct educators”; 1,171 (13.3 percent) have been positions not directly connected to instruction, such as bus drivers; and 341 (3.9 percent) have been in “core support,” which includes staff of central administrative offices (not necessarily superintendents and principals.) KASB report.

Since 1998, the number of superintendents has decreased by 27 (9.3 percent) and the number of principals dropped 76 (6.0 percent). The number of students, teachers and other support staff have increased, which means individual superintendents and principals are responsible for supervision and evaluation of more students and staff. KASB report.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What do school districts do with more (or less) money?

About 85 percent of school funding goes to school district salaries and benefits or to contracts for services that employ others receiving salaries and benefits. When operating funding increases, it generally goes to provide competitive salaries and benefits and to hire more people to provide additional services. KASB report.

From 2000 to 2005, total school employees increased by over 524 positions; from 2005 to 2019, employment increased an additional 6,415 following the Montoy funding, and as funding has fallen behind inflation since 2009, school district employment decreased by 1,719. KASB data tool.

Most of the rest of the funding increases in recent years have been for improving school district facilities for increased enrollment, expanded programs, energy efficiency, safety features and new technology.

Follow-up: Some say school districts have hired far more non-teachers than teachers in recent years. Is that true?

That is only true if not counting individuals who assist teachers in the classroom, but are not fully licensed teachers, such as special education paraprofessionals and regular classroom aides. Districts have hired more of these positions because licensed teachers may not be available, or because it is more efficient to hire these individuals to take over routine duties from regular teachers.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How has school funding changed compared to inflation and other cost indicators?

Since 2000, school funding increased somewhat more than inflation before the Supreme Court Montoy decision in 2005; increased significantly for four years as the Legislature responded to that decision which said school funding was too low; and has averaged less than inflation since the Great Recession in 2008-09.

From 2000 to 2005, total expenditures per pupil (using the full-time equivalent enrollment that does not count full-time kindergartners and district-funded preschoolers) increased an average of 2.0 percent more than inflation per year.

Looking only at general fund, special education state aid and local option budgets, spending per pupil increased just one-quarter of one percent more than inflation. (Total expenditures include building construction costs and payment of debt for construction bonds, as well as KPERS pension contributions, federal funds, food service and fees that are not included in general fund, special ed and LOB.)

From 2005 to 2009, following the Supreme Court order to increase K-12 funding after the Montoy decision, total funding increased an average of 4.5 percent per year more than inflation. General fund, special ed and LOB spending increased almost 5.0 percent more. During the period, the Legislature substantially increased funding for at-risk, bilingual and special education students, and increased local option budget authority.

From 2009 to 2016, total per pupil funding has decreased an average of 1.23 percent per year after adjusting for inflation. General fund, special ed and LOB funding decreased almost 2.0 percent more.  As a result, when adjusted for inflation to 2015 dollars, school funding is below 2009 levels, although unadjusted dollars are higher.

Follow-up: Some say because school funding is higher than inflation if you count increases in the 2000s, school districts should have enough money to operate.

School district costs are rising faster than inflation. From 2000 through 2015, the U.S. Employment Cost Index (a measure of changes of salaries and benefits for all public and private sector employees) increased an average of 0.5 percent more than inflation. From 2005 through 2015, the U.S. School Building Cost Index increased more than 2 percent more than inflation (this measure has only been available since 2005).

In addition, the needs of students have changed. There are far more low income students, who have less family support; bilingual students, who need special assistance in other languages; and students with severe physical and emotional needs, who need high cost specialized services.