NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 5, 2010

New York state educators are warning that proposed cuts in state aid to public schools next year could force more than 14,000 teacher layoffs.   Officials of the state's largest teachers' union claim aid cuts will devastate education, leading to a drastic reduction of programs and much larger class sizes. 

But these dire forecasts need to be weighed against a recent growth trend in school staffing.  In fact, relative to enrollment, most school districts in New York employed more professional staff last year than they did at the start of the decade, says the Manhattan Institute.  

According to the State Education Department (SED), between 2000-01 and 2008-09: 

  • New York schools added 14,746 teachers and 8,655 nonteaching professionals such as administrators, guidance counselors, nurses, psychologists and social workers.
  • Statewide enrollment dropped by 121,280 pupils.  

The data indicates that nearly half the new staff members were hired in New York City, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a reduction in class sizes one of his top priorities after taking office in 2002, says the Institute:  

  • The city added 7,072 teachers and 4,042 nonteaching professionals even as its enrollment was decreasing by 62,670 pupils, or 5.9 percent, according to state data.
  • Upstate schools experienced an even greater enrollment drop of 72,000 pupils, or 7.4 percent, but added 939 teachers and 2,408 other professionals.
  • Public school enrollments in Long Island and the Mid-Hudson increased by 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively, but school districts in both of those regions increased their teaching staffs by more than 10 percent and their non-teaching professional staffs by more than 20 percent.  

What accounts for the staff growth?  

  • Data from the SED Personnel Master File indicate that roughly half the additional teachers hired statewide between 2000-01 and 2008-09 were in the field of special education, with most others divided among prekindergarten, kindergarten, and the subject areas of English, science, math and social studies.
  • But the fastest staff growth was in the category of nonteaching professionals, including an added 1,927 principals and assistant principals, 1,149 guidance counselors, 1,107 social workers, 996 psychologists and 992 nurses.
  • New York City, despite falling enrollment, added nonteaching professionals at nearly twice the rate for other regions. 

Source: E.J. McMahon, "School Staffs Grew in New York," Manhattan Institute, March 30, 2010. 

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