Guest contribution by Arthur Green
I have argued that in the years since enrollment peaked in 2007-08, the district has protected its staffing level despite plummeting enrollment. Plugging in this year’s figures from state filings, we have
At Deliberative in February 2015, the district made a grossly misleading comparison in order to claim that the district has made fiscally responsible staffing adjustments in response to the long term enrollment decline. They have not.
The School Board Chair presentation (page 11) stated:
- Since our peak year of 2007- 08, enrollment has decreased by 851 students or 18.4%.
- During that same time, the number of teachers has decreased by 44.7 or 12.22%.
- This decrease in enrollment has resulted in an average reduction of one teacher for every 19 students lost.
This is misleading because:
- The truth is that overall staffing is hardly changing at all despite declining enrollment. While decreasing the number of teachers, the district is increasing staff in other categories particularly “non-teaching professionals.” Since the overall staffing is hardly changing, why does TRSD boast of changing the balance of staff away from teachers providing classroom instruction in favor of non-teaching support and administrative staff?
- The chart accompanying the Chairman’s claim contains a small but critical caveat – the teacher decline they show is NOT measured from 2007-08, but from one year earlier, 2006-07. This is important because from 2006-07 to 2007-08 the number of teachers dropped by 17 FTE positions at the same time as overall staffing increased by 9 (to 697 FTE staff ) and enrollment increased by 75 due to introduction of the Kindergarten program. So the decline of 17 teachers in that year had nothing to do with responsible management of staffing levels for declining district enrollment, particularly since overall staffing actually increased at the same time.
I made these points in detail at my town hall presentation on the budget in December 2014, in response to the original claims authored by Rob Collins in a presentation to the Budget Committee. My commentary was posted online in writing and in Vimeo and was closely scrutinized by supporters of TRSD overspending. Yet disgracefully, the misleading claims were repeated and amplified in the school board chairman’s presentation to Deliberative in February.
- The Chair’s presentation states “During that same time, the number of teachers has decreased”. This statement is simply false, since the decrease covers an additional year, and is not during the same time as the decreased enrollment.
- The Chair’s presentation states: “This decrease in enrollment has resulted in an average reduction of one teacher for every 19 students lost.” This statement cannot be defended, since it includes 17 reductions from before any students were “lost”.
Preparing for another big lie?
The district could be preparing to double down on this path of misinformation by crediting themselves now with the reduced teacher numbers in the current staffing. They can add the 11.6 teacher reduction this year to the prior claim of 44.7 reductions, for a new claim that 56.3 teacher positions have been reduced – a 15.4% reduction in teachers.
Yes, classroom teachers have been reduced, but other staff positions have been created that offset to a very large extent overall staff cuts – as my table above demonstrates. It’s shameless to boast to the community about how many teaching staff have been reduced while being busy stuffing the org chart with administration.
Remember the basic facts: enrollment down 21%. Staff down 3%. No spin.
Edited by D. Green