Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Most districts losing educators, even as state total grows

From 2004 to 2014, most Kentucky school districts reduced their certified staffs, even as the statewide total increased by 2%. Certified employees include teachers and other educators whose positions require state certificates, including librarians, counselors, principals, superintendents, and some other positions.

The changes can be seen in more detail in this table:

 Thus, three important patterns:
  • The growth tilted toward the larger districts, with smaller districts on average seeing declines and the medium-sized districts taking the greatest losses.
  • The growth was heavily concentrated in the county systems, rather than independent districts.
  • Appalachian districts took heavy losses even as the others grew.
The Appalachian situation is arguably even tougher than these numbers show.  They reflect Appalachian Regional Commission's designation of 54 counties and their 18 independent districts, but a handful of the included locations had very different experiences.

Madison County added 73 certified employees for a 13% growth rate. A set of seven districts (Bath, Clark, Corbin, Laurel, Madison, Montgomery, and Pulaski) together added 247 teachers and 10%.  If those seven were left out of the regional count, the remaining districts would show an 11% decline.

What unites those districts that have been able to add educators over the last decade?  For six of them, you can exit an interstate highway and your off-ramp will put you inside the county seat.  Pulaski doesn't fit that category exactly but it's already at the junction of major east/west and north/south routes, and there's steady campaigning to extend I-66 along that same path.  Roughly, this means the growth zones are in the places most connected to other regions, and the losses deeper in the Appalachian part of the state are heavy indeed.

Here's a second table counting the districts seeing the various kinds of changes:
Over this same period, Kentucky schools saw a 5% increase in the number of students in average daily attendance, so a 2% increase in certified staff falls clearly short of keeping pace.

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