Student-Employee Ratios Show There's More to Recent Colorado K-12 Layoffs

A quick Friday tidbit before your weekend, inspired by Mike Antonucci’s post “The Sound of Eyes Opening” and a comparison of the change in Ohio’s student population to the number of teachers at the Flypaper blog….

We hear a lot about Colorado school districts having to lay off teachers and other employees. It’s an unfortunate proposition that has come about as a result of rare budget cuts in K-12 education. When all is said and done, it will be noteworthy to see just how many local public school employees lose their employment statewide.

The Colorado Department of Education reports the state had 724,508 students enrolled in public schools in October 2000, growing by 14.9% to 832,368 students in October 2009. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that during the same months employees of Colorado local government educational services increased by 20.9% from 108,700 (October 2000) to 131,400 (October 2009).

If the same student-to-employee ratio from 2000 had been kept for 2009, that would be 6,500 fewer workers in Colorado local school agencies. And it raises many questions to be considered closely and carefully:

How significant has the growth been among teachers? Administrators? Support personnel? How vital and how effective was the hiring spree of the early 2000s? To what extent are current reductions in force a correction of that trend? What other policies can we consider to make effective education a less labor-intensive enterprise?

People losing jobs is never pleasant. But whenever we hear of school district layoffs, it’s important to note there’s more to the subject than emotional pleas of “it’s for the children”….