“Financially it’s a ticking time bomb, we think,” Ingersoll said. “The main budget item in any school district is teachers’ salaries. This just can’t be sustainable.”
It’s easy to see what Ingersoll means. NCES produces its survey every four years. Almost all public school staffing took a hit during the 2012 survey, as districts laid off thousands during the recession. Hiring was bound to return to normal levels afterwards.
If we go back to 2008 we get a clear picture of the growth of America’s public school workforce. While, student enrollment in 2015-16 was virtually identical to what it was in 2007-08 — almost 49.3 million students — the number of employees in 2016 was substantially higher.
The population of teachers grew from 3.4 million to more than 3.8 million — an increase of 12.4 percent.
But teachers comprise only half of the public school labor force. Over the past eight years, the numbers of administrators, bureaucrats, specialists and infrastructure support employees have also ballooned. The ranks of vice principals and assistant principals grew by 8.3 percent. Instructional coordinators and curriculum specialists increased by 10.5 percent, and there was between 5 and 12 percent growth in the number of nurses, psychologists, speech therapists, and special education aides.
Again, this larger group of employees is responsible for the same number of students as were enrolled in 2008.