Amidst steadily increasing student enrollment, loss of teaching and support staff hits Texas’ classrooms
Houston, TX (March 13, 2012) – After the 82nd Texas Legislature slashed the public education budget by $5.4 billion, school districts have been faced with difficult choices of how and what to cut from their budgets. With staffing comprising about 86 percent of most districts budgets, most have decided to reduce campus and district staff through attrition, or layoffs.
New data from the Texas Education Agency documents the first official numbers on positions eliminated in the 2011-12 school year. A total of 25,286 positions were reduced from 2010-11 to the present school year. The staff types that saw the most positions eliminated include auxiliary staff such as bus drivers and custodians, elementary and secondary teachers, classroom support staff such as educational aides and teacher facilitators, and pre-kindergarten teachers.
As data becomes available on the far-reaching impacts of state cuts to public education, one consequence is clear: significant reductions to teachers, classroom support staff, and pre-school will impact the classroom, and will impact learning.
Table: Total full time equivalent (FTE) positions lost from the 2010-11 to 2011-12 school years for the Top 10 most shed positions.
Staff Type – Positions Lost (FTE)
1. Auxiliary* – 6973
2. Educational Aide – 4847.5
3. All Grade Levels – 3443.0
4. Elementary (Grades 1-6) – 2885.1
5. Secondary (Grades 7-12) – 2618.7
6. Pre-Kindergarten – 1132.1
7. Teacher Facilitator – 970.6
8. Counselor – 389.6
9. Kindergarten – 358.2
10. Librarian – 345.8
*Auxiliary staff positions are non-professional or paraprofessional, including bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria workers.
According to the new Texas Education Agency data, Texas school districts saved well over $600 million by eliminating 10,717 full-time equivalent (FTE) professional teaching positions in the past year. At the same time, Texas was projected to add over 100,000 students from the 2011 to the 2012 school year, as projected by the National Center for Education Statistics. Fewer teachers and more students in Texas’ classrooms assure many teachers are faced with larger classes and less time to work individually with students. Among school districts that employed at least 1,000 teachers in 2011, the districts that made the greatest percentage of reductions in teaching staff were Waco ISD (11%), Spring ISD (8%), Goose Creek ISD (8%), Abilene ISD (8%), and Houston ISD (8%).
Significant reductions were also made to professionals and paraprofessionals who support teachers in the classroom, as well as provide additional help and individual attention to struggling students. Among the most heavily cut positions from 2011 to 2012 were educational aides. Statewide, eight school districts cut over 100 educational aide positions: Spring ISD (224 aides), Arlington ISD (189), Houston ISD (182), Dallas ISD (150), Edgewood ISD (149), Comal ISD (145), Laredo ISD (122), and Rio Grande City ISD (105).
Finally, the new data clearly illustrates how the compounded effect of reduced general revenue and the elimination of the state Pre-kindergarten Expansion Grant program, made it easy for many districts to eliminate pre-school. In total, school districts cut 1,132 pre-kindergarten teaching positions by limiting student enrollment, moving from full to half-day curriculums, and/or increasing class size. While some school districts—such as Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Lubbock ISD, Harlandale ISD, and Northside ISD kept their pre-school staff largely intact, others made drastic cuts. For example, El Paso ISD cut 344, nearly 93% of its pre-kindergarten teaching positions.
“Collecting, reporting and broadly disseminating unbiased data on the impact of these unprecedented cuts to public education will be critical for understanding how cutting back on education spending affects our children,” said Janet Harman, founder and president of the KDK-Harman Foundation. “It is time to look at the data and ask ourselves if scaling back our investment in public education decelerates our efforts to end the cycle of poverty.” The KDK-Harman Foundation, along with the Kathryn and Beau Ross Foundation, have contracted CHILDREN AT RISK to evaluate the impact of state cuts to education.
Over the next six months, CHILDREN AT RISK will be conducting a comprehensive study on the impact of the $5.4 billion cut to public education on school districts and students across the state. Through analysis of Texas Education Agency data and original data collection from school districts and non-profits, CHILDREN AT RISK will uncover the multi-dimensional impact of cutting formula and grant funding to Texas public schools.
“When we cut education, of course it will have a profound impact on the future of our children,” said Dr. Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of CHILDREN AT RISK. “As many districts are left with little choice but to make these cuts inside the classrooms, we must pay special attention to how this will impact learning among all our children, particularly those who need extra attention.”
About CHILDREN AT RISK
CHILDREN AT RISK is a non-profit organization leading the way to improving the quality of life for Texas’ children through research, collaboration, and advocacy. CHILDREN AT RISK educates the community and public officials based on its groundbreaking research which tracks children’s health, safety, education, and economic conditions. By understanding children’s needs and speaking out on their behalf, CHILDREN AT RISK drives change. Visit us at www.childrenatrisk.org, to learn more.