Behind the DPI School Personnel Numbers

The Department of Public Instruction has released the final public school personnel [1] 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).

“Selective” Data?

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?

[1] 2011-12school personnel data was obtained from NC Department of Public Instruction. Other data and comparisons and calculations provided  by Civitas Institute.

This article was posted in Education by Bob Luebke on January 23, 2012 at 3:42 PM.

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Comments on this article

  • 1

    Rebecca Osborne
    Rebecca Osborne Jan 25, 2012 at 8:12

    Thank you for this excellent article. It really exposes the lies we hear from the NCAE and from DPI folks who hate it when their sacred ox is gored. You give us facts with which we can spike their guns. Well done!

  • 2

    Marianne Aiken
    Marianne Aiken Jan 25, 2012 at 9:25

    What is the change, if any, in the student census during this period?
    Was there any change in the number of students being served?

  • 3

    Frank Deatrich
    Frank Deatrich Jan 25, 2012 at 10:46

    Outstanding article! We ponder why America has slipped so far. Then we are presented with facts and figures from our (Leaders ??) that have been spun so much; that they border on out-right fabrications. Thus, the message is: its ok to lie. We the people are to blame for this. November is coming!

  • 4

    Joseph Jan 25, 2012 at 11:03

    As with any issue, there are two or more sides. While it appears that the information presented here is accurate, the fact that we (as a state) have reduced the funding to the local school systems can not be disputed. The reduction in federal funds has had a dramatic impact on our schools. As a conservative, I struggle with “wasteful government spending” . However, I truly believe, as a businessman, that our future lies with well educated young people who are prepared to be life long learners. This foundation must include a good public school system which is well funded. I don’t pretend to know all the in’s and out’s of this very important issue, but I believe we must provide the opportunity for a good education for those who are college bound as well as those who are on a vocational track in order to see a bright economic future for North Carolina and our Great Republic.

  • 5

    Norman Jan 25, 2012 at 12:19

    Joseph, if you’re interested in improving quality of public education while cutting costs, take a look at charter schools. Charter schools are public schools that have had to adjust to lower funding per pupil just like the government-run schools. However, in addition to that, charter schools operate efficiently enough to spread their operating dollars to also cover the cost of their facilities, i.e. the charter schools’ facilities costs are not borne by the taxpayer, saving us millions of dollars for each charter school in operation. Plus charter schools are schools of choice. Parents enroll (and can withdraw) their children by choice, they’re not assigned like government-run schools. This gives parents real education options, and introduces healthy market competition to public education. As with all industries in a free market, this competition tends to drive quality up and costs down.

  • 6

    Tom Glendinning
    Tom Glendinning Jan 25, 2012 at 12:22

    Yes, education is the engine which drives the future of employment, if not the economy indirectly. However, county school budget supplements do not seem to produce the results expected, comparing Chatham County to other similar counties. Chatham has the highest supplemental rate in the state and results from Lee and Rutherford are similar. Thus, the model of pouring money into the system does not produce results.

    The curriculum and strategic educational choices are made by the federal government and teacher’s unions (NCAE). As found in other states, these policies do not lead to quality education.
    Charter schools have outperformed the state system in EOG testing and SATs. In fact, these policies have led to the disasters found in Cleveland, Ohio and other urban systems.

    Loosening the grip of the decision making hierarchy should lead to better educational results, if well managed. Some form of auditing needs to be implemented so that corruption is not so easy in this accounting system once removed from close local government scrutiny.

  • 7

    Don Yelton
    Don Yelton Jan 27, 2012 at 9:41

    Money does not produce results. In Buncombe County less than 1/2 of the budget goes to the classroom. Money goes to teacher imporvement, communication, outreach to other non-profits, and on and on. Get rid of that big building in Raleigh and why do we need a principle and three or four assistants. Come on let’s see proof that class size improves results. We retire teachers at a great retirement and then rehire thier placement and wonder why the cost of education is doubling.

    We have not been taught much ourselves.

  • 8

    Diana Reairck
    Diana Reairck Feb 09, 2012 at 6:16

    Like I said in the response that was clearly erased from this site…..Until you come down into the trenches of education yourself, until you create your own “numbers chart” on the loss of jobs, until you receive several mail bags of teachers pay stubs for the last 3 years – and see no raises but higher health premiums… are just believing someone else’s facts. At least if you are going to argue about “how good NC Teachers” have it… your own research, come up with your own numbers, have the guts to follow a teacher for a day……If you’re not willing to do these things, you are just looking in the mirror and admiring yourselves.

  • 9

    Education Supporitng Republican
    Education Supporitng Republican Feb 17, 2012 at 9:44

    Charter schools are more than schools of choice by parent choice. Charters schools also have the right to choose their students. Public schools have the responsibility to provide every student with an education. If you think educating the children of NC is expensive just wait to see how expensive it will be to deal with uneducated adults.

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