The Department of Public Instruction has released the final public school personnel  figures for 2011-12. Last week we posted preliminary school personnel data on the Civitas web site. How accurate was the preliminary data? The percentage difference in annual staff changes by funding source (i.e., local, state and federal) between the preliminary and final data is within decimal points of each other.
What do the data tell us?
There are approximately 4,800 fewer public school employees than last year. Changes in employees by source of funding include: 2,000 fewer local employees; 7,400 fewer federal employees and more than 4,600 additional state-funded employees.
Jump in State-Funded Employees
While schools experienced a net loss of employees, the number of state-funded employees increased significantly (4,613). The increase was a result of the state replacing about 80 percent of $398 million in federal stabilization funds which had expired. The federal funds were used to pay for about 9,200 education personnel. Because the federal funds dried up this year, thousands of personnel were shifted back into the category of state-funded; which helps explain both the sharp decline in federal-funded employees and the increase in state-funded personnel.
Gov. Perdue’s criticism of Republican General Assembly
Gov. Perdue has said budget policies of the Republican-controlled General Assembly will cause significant job losses and adversely impact the classroom. The loss of approximately 7,400 federal jobs and 2,000 local jobs suggests that it is not state policy, but federal policy that is driving job losses. According to officials at the Department of Public Instruction, the increase in state-funded school employees does not represent a net increase in personnel but merely a shift in funding, as federal stimulus dollars ran out and the state had to once again assume financing of several thousand employees. The “shift” represents an additional investment of approximately $318 million, no insignificant amount. If DPI says the numbers don’t represent a net increase, could officials in DPI or any other state office also verify that the new state-funded employees were previously state-funded personnel and not new personnel hired with federal stimulus funds? Staff in two different offices have been asked to respond to this question. So far, no response has been received.
Job Losses and the Classroom
Gov. Perdue and leading Democrats said the Republican-authored budget would result in layoffs of between 20,000 and 30,000 and adversely impact the classroom. DPI data reveals a net loss of 4,800 education jobs, with job losses driven by the loss of federally-funded positions. There are 915 fewer teachers than last year, far less than the “thousands” predicted by NCAE and other education groups. Other job losses by position include: teacher assistant (2,042); service worker (1,051) and clerk/secretary (282). Teacher jobs comprise 19 percent of all education jobs lost. Job losses among uncertified personnel (e.g., teacher assistant, technician, clerk/secretaries, service workers, skilled crafts and labors) account for approximately 72 percent of all job losses.
School Personnel Job Losses.
Total job losses represent 2.6 percent of all school personnel (local, state and federal).
DPI contends our article highlighting an increase in 4,600 state-funded employees represents a “selective” use of data (See: Statement from NC DPI, Office of Communications). I disagree. The fact was clearly presented within a discussion of job losses among school employees. It’s a curious charge coming from an agency that counts jobs eliminated and jobs lost (reduction-in-force) back to 2008, but has never issued a public statement on the subject until August of this year. Considering 63 percent of the 17,000 eliminated positions and 60 percent of 6,200 reduction in force layoffs occurred before this year, it makes you wonder: who’s being selective?
 2011-12school personnel data was obtained from NC Department of Public Instruction. Other data and comparisons and calculations provided by Civitas Institute.