Report: Alaska’s teachers are outnumbered by other staff

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The Alaska Policy Forum has published a report showing that for every four teachers in Alaska, there are five other staff members performing various other duties. Districts across the state average three teachers for every four other staff members.

The school districts with the highest number of teachers as a ratio to other staff include the Mat-Su Borough School District, which has about a 1:1 teacher-staff ratio. Teachers represent 49% of all district staff in the valley. Anchorage also was about 1:1.

The Tanana City School District has the lowest ratio of teachers to other staff, .35:1. For every teacher — and there are four of them — the district employees nearly three other staff members. The student-teacher ratio in Tanana is 8:1.

In only seven of Alaska’s 53 school districts do teachers represent 50% or more of the district’s staff: Alaska Gateway (69%), Aleutian Region (62%), Craig City (51%), Kenai Peninsula Borough (52%), Nome Public Schools (55%), Sitka (54%), and Yakutat (50%), the Alaska Policy Forum says.

By “other staff” the organization means administrators, principals, guidance counselors, librarians, instructional aides, and more. Alaska currently has about 129,000 students enrolled and over 7,200 teachers (full time equivalents), with a pupil-teacher ratio of about 18:1.

The report comes at a time when nationally, the employment in the nation’s schools has reached an all-time high, even as school enrollment lags in nearly every state.

On a per-student basis, schools employ more teachers and other staff than they’ve ever had.

For example, in 2018-19, the last full year before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Virginia public schools employed just under 87,000 teachers. By 2020-21, the schools had employed about 75 more staff, about 0.1%, while school enrollment had declined by 2.9%. By 2022, Virginia schools had added even more staff, as student enrollment continued to dwindle, according to Chad Aldeman, policy director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University.

Aldeman writes in The 74, an education blog, that school staffing is hitting an all-time high and at least 48 states and the District of Columbia were reviewed, and three-quarters had added staff the first full year of the pandemic, while only two states, North Dakota and South Dakota, and D.C. enrolled more students.

“As a result, schools in 46 out of 49 states effectively lowered their teacher-student ratios during the height of the pandemic,” Aldeman reports. The national student-teacher ratio is about 17:1.

54 COMMENTS

  1. In early 2000 my property taxes were under 4,000 per year. 23 years later they are over 9,000 per year.
    All for just the price of a latte a month they say….

      • $4,000 in the year 2000 would be worth just over $7,000 today. That means MJD’s taxes did not beat inflation to the tune of $2,000.

        • A better look here might be housing prices, even though taxes involve millage rates as well as prices. Here is a look at median housing prices for our major cities: ‘https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Case%E2%80%93Shiller_index#/media/File:Median_housing_price_by_metro_area.webp

      • Bill, thank you for demonstrating your idiocy once again.
        .
        As laughably low-balled as the BL(B)S’ official inflation numbers are, and have been for decades, there is NO way that the cost of living (much less the average worker’s wage) has risen 4.5X in the last 23 years. Maybe half of that, sure, but not 4.5X.

      • “Your taxes likely beat inflation” What do they call it when the government charges you to use your own money? Anybody?

  2. The schools need a serious audit. Name another institution that fails continuously and demands and receives more funding. The state should start by selling the University of
    Alaska. Then the government should privatize the public schools. The current situation is failing and needs to be replaced.

    • Hear Hear!! A often repeated plea. Your large Charter school in Anchorage the board is about to dissolve that produces the better academic platform is an example of stupidity. What should be happening is the curriculum/staff training of this school SHOULD be the formula for the full district, but no, the poser of the militant teachers union defeats any action that would expose their criminality of child abuse.

      • A school that cannot meet regulatory expectations over and over is NOT producing the better academic platform for your child. And is NOT the program to copy across the full district.

  3. Not just here. I know teachers in several states who make the same claim.

    Education is just another swamp. It exists to self perpetuate, not to teach kids anything.

  4. This is a trend that has been developing for 50-yrs. It is especially bad in universities who are passing the bloated costs of overstaffing to students in the form of student loan debt. See the following video starting at about mark 19:00: ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LVSrTZDopM&t=1339s
    .
    This is the age-old problem with government-run bureaucracies. The only answer to the K-12 problem is encompassed in one word: vouchers.

  5. A great culling of 98% of all administrators is desperately needed across many professions. If you can not succinctly state your purpose and function a sentence or two you need to go.

  6. Mark and Ethan both have feathers in their hat for gathering the biggest share of Easter Eggs when it comes to raising tax dollars! Even with the tax cap all you have to do is raise the assessments.

  7. Impressive.
    .
    The teachers union, outnumbered by other education-industry parasites, outnumbered by parents, managed to win, to achieve national recognition for transforming Alaska’s education industry into one of America’s most overpriced, underperforming… and morally perverted.
    .
    That’s an accomplishment you don’t see every day, no?

    • That’s not entirely true. And some Bush districts, the site administrator also teaches. The way it works these days is there’s usually a cultural director, a sped director also in charge of title One, there’s a director in charge of federal monies and grants, various other support staff that are assigned a few teachers and their role is to help the teacher reach goals and troubleshoot. Those are usually proven teachers that have a spouse and some other capacity with the district. There’s also a maintenance director that’s in charge of all the site facilities. There’s also an activities director. So running a school district just isn’t about having a superintendent and a handful of teachers but in today’s world, in my opinion some of those are needed and some of those are not. I also forgot office people in charge of payroll those sort of things. In a lot of ways it’s more like a business in a lot of ways it’s more like a business. The unions don’t even come into play. But haters got to hate.

  8. My great grandmother taught in a one room schoolhouse near Laramie, WY. They wouldn’t support her if her enrollment fell below a dozen students, so some years she collected a few illiterate miners and enrolled them to learn how to read. She taught kindergarten through adults, all in the same room, with the same supplies and books she came with. How in hell did they ever learn anything without counselors, administrators, school nurses, janitors, principals, vice principals, librarians, school cooks, hallway monitors, or recess monitors?

    • They probably didn’t learn any much past the third grade which was when my grandfather left public school for the farm work. He could barely sign his name but raised three kids and a wife.

      • Or they could have been like my father and grandfather and could read and write at an adult level and do basic geometry and algebra at grade 8. All that from one room schools. Hmmm . . . .

  9. But… the teachers need better pay! Or, so I am told.
    .
    Seriously, exactly how many administrative staff does a school need? Why? I doubt there is justification for half of the admin staff. If we cut the fat from that part of the school budget, I have a feeling we can pay the teachers a few pennies more an hour.

  10. Thanks for writing a column which every parent, and property tax payer are already aware of.

    When Mike showers investigated the binding cacus, it was exposed ad to how many extra hands the state adds to lighten the load. Our state employees work loads are much lighter than those of other states. All was recorded on Michael Dukes.

  11. The safety of students and staff is crucial. Except for Bethel High School no series acts of violence in our schools. Parents with custody disputes try to muscle school officials into releasing students. Too many mentally ill and severely depressed individuals walking around. Violent students protected by special education law need full time assistance as they go to classes. Keep our children safe.

  12. Alaska has the second highest per student cost in the nation, and ironically the second lowest student academic achievement.
    But the solution, according to the unions……is MORE money, MORE money, MORE money.
    With anything that the government is in charge of, that is always the answer, more money!
    No no no, do not hold us accountable, just give us more money, you racist!

  13. Very interesting article, however, what is the student ratio for MSBSD? I can tell you it’s higher than ASD. Classrooms of 30-37 is common where ASD is 24-27. They have 2 plumbers and ASD has 15. They have 1 Planner where ASD has 6. Yes, they do need to get rid of the 2-3 Assistant Principals at secondary schools and even some admin people, but they are still far below ASD. But students have higher scores than ASD?

  14. What about the employees who work for the ASD and don’t fall into the category of other staff. That would be the mind-blower. Seems to be a very biased report by excluding them from the count. Especially since in California the teachers protested in unity with their non-staff workers. ASD seems very reluctant to release the numbers of their total work force. The real numbers must be staggering.

  15. This story is incomplete. It’s an introduction to the issue, not a story. Please do a follow-up, talk with these districts that have high staff numbers and report on where those positions are. In many of our Alaskan districts, these are required aides or “paraprofessionals” for students that qualify as Special Education and specifically “Intensive Needs”. The State funding formula multiplies the allocation for these students many times over to cover the extra staffing. I would love to see Districts ranked by their size category, then by percentage of staff that is in Administration. That would also be useful to look at.

  16. We need more information. For instance if we are adding in class room teacher aides they lower teacher burden. if we are adding out of class room Diversity coordinators that is pure democrat fail.

  17. Let me help you see the big picture Bob you want the money to go with the kids in the form of vouchers. That sounds great doesn’t it. So then all the kids will leave and go to a school district of their choosing and the money goes with them, or if the kids are homeschooled, the money would go to the parents as being solely responsible for the kids education. Let me give you a couple of scenarios though. What happens when the money goes to the parents who homeschool, and then after count Day, they decide they can’t handle it anymore and enroll their kids and the public school. Do they have to give all that money back, or do they have to sign a check and hand it over to the local school district? How’s the state going to collect this money that isn’t paid back? Scenario number two is all the students leave your school district, and since they still are a viable number of students left that the state has to keep that school open, they raise the hell out of your property taxes in order to pay for that. Is that what you want Bob hire property taxes like astronomically higher? If you think that’s a good idea I’d like to know what planet you’re on?

    • Greg you’re so negative . You explain how well we are doing now. Your views are we can’t do anything anybody recommends . What a positive person you are.

    • Specifics on how or when the money is allocated is mute. Schools would change by necessity to attract students/parents to a certain emphasis (style or theme). The parents or guardians are not sent cash just vouchers for the money allocated. This current system is in spiral downwards. Motivated parents and teachers and kids will inspire creativity. There will always be a need for the standard of current; for special needs kids and parent and guardians who don’t care. They will choose the most local and easiest accessible.

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