The stats on school staffing might seem like a violation of the laws of supply and demand.
In the past decade, the population of elementary, middle and high school students in Massachusetts dropped by 42,000 while the number of school employees grew by 18,000. In Connecticut, public school enrollment fell 7% while staffing rose 8%. Even in states with growing populations, school staff has been increasing far faster than students. Texas, for example, educates 367,000 more students, a 7% increase over the past decade, but the number of employees has surged by more than 107,000, a 16% jump. Staffing is up 20% in Washington state, but the number of students has risen by less than 3%.
“When kids go to school right now there are more adults in the building of all types than there were in 2013 and more than when I was a kid,” said Marguerite Roza, director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University, where she has been tracking the divergence between students and staff at the nation’s public schools.
What’s behind the apparent imbalance? Follow the money.
School hiring has taken place in three acts, Roza says. The first act followed the Great Recession of 2008, as schools added back staff that they had been forced to cut in the economic downturn.