Two years of increased funding restores school district employees

Two years of increased funding restores school district employees

After the Kansas Legislature boosted general school funding above the rate of inflation last year and this year, districts statewide have added staff positions to replace losses since 2009 – and then some.

Highlights:

  • New school district employee reports available from the Kansas State Department of Education show total statewide full-time equivalent positions of 71,154.2 this fall, the highest on record. Since 1998, districts have added over 11,600 positions, mostly teachers, paraprofessional and classroom aides, and student and instructional support staff.
  • School staff increased as real (higher than inflation) school funding increase between 1998 and 2009, the declined as funding declined compared to inflation from 2009 to 2017.
  • Following two years of funding increases in 2018 and 2019, districts statewide have replaced positions cut over the past 8 years.
  • While overall employee positions have increased since 1998, central and general administration positions have been reduced over that period.

Deeper information:

District employment increased 2,674.2 positions over last year, which was 989 higher than 2017. The two-year increase of 3,663.2 pushed total school employees over the previous high of 70,349 in 2009. The increase in employment corresponded to an estimated $400 million increase school district general fund, special education state aid and local option budgets over two years.

The two-year increase follows a reduction in total school positions fell by 2,227 between 2009 and 2017 as those same operating budgets declined by over $500 million when adjusted for inflation. Prior to that, school districts had been adding positions as funding increased during the 2000’s.

Of the 11,600 positions added from 1998 to the current year, the vast majority were related to instruction. Districts added nearly 4,000 certified teacher positions, including 1,265 kindergarten and preschool teachers as districts expanded all-day kindergarten and preschool programs. In addition, almost 4,200 special education paraprofessionals and regular teacher aides were added.

Other major staffing changes:

  • Almost 1,400 student support positions were added, including over 600 counselors, social workers and school resources officers, 220 school nurses and 53 clinical or school psychologists.
  • Over 1, 000 instructional support positions were added, most of which were technology directors, coordinators, supervisors and other technology support positions, which were not even identified as separate positions in 1998.
  • Almost 224 assistant principals were added, but 75 head principal positions were cut.
  • Transportation staff expanded by 471 positions as districts increased transportation services to more students for safety and attendance. Food service personal increased by about 180. There was little change in operating and maintenance staff.
  • Central services and general administration positions declined by 239. Districts reduced full-time equivalent superintendent positions by 23 and associate and assistant superintendents by seven; and cut general administration clerical support by 336, while increasing business services staff by 126.

Student full-time equivalent enrollment for school finance calculations increased from 452,000 in 1998 to almost 474,000 in 2019. A portion of this increase was counting all full-time kindergarten students as full-time students beginning in 2018. However, this number still exclude some students receiving services, such as students in district-funded preschool programs. Headcount enrollment, counting each student enrolled and receiving students as one student, is nearly 499,000 this fall.

The KASB research department has created an interactive data tool that provides information on school employees statewide and for every district from 1998 to 2019. It can accessed here (link) or by contacting KASB’s chief data officer, Ted Carter, tcarter@kasb.org.

Statewide change in positions: