Too many non-teachers?

Thirty-one percent of school employees implies are support staffers — clerks, janitors, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, security guards — and another 12 percent are aides, reports Fordham’s The Hidden Half.

Their salaries and benefits absorb one quarter of school expenditures.

Is it worth it?

How to stretch the school-district dollar

Stretching the school-district dollar is a must in tough times, writes Fordham’s Michael J. Petrilli in a new policy brief.

“Aim for a leaner, more productive, better paid workforce,” he advises.

In the last two decades, school systems have hired all manner of instructional coaches, teachers’ aides, program administrators, support staff, counselors, psychiatrists, specialists, and so forth. Redefining these roles—and those of classroom teachers—provides great opportunities for increased productivity. None of this is easy, but districts should consider:

Asking classroom teachers to take on additional responsibility in return for greater pay. Can they do without aides? Handle larger classes (or student loads)? Take on mentoring roles along with classroom instruction? Where these additional responsibilities enable the system to operate with fewer staff (even if that means the remaining staff work a longer year), the system can justify higher pay while still realizing savings.

Districts also should rethink special education, Petrilli writes.

For example, if a district uses a “co-teaching” model with regular teacher and a special education teacher in the same classroom—which is hugely expensive—could it try a pull-out approach instead? Or if the best model has these students staying in the classroom, could the extra services be provided over the summer, or after school?

He also suggests a more aggressive salary schedule that lets teachers reach the maximum base pay more quickly, prioritizing salaries over benefits and “thoughtful” integration of technology.


Union protests parent volunteers

Parent volunteers are under fire at a northern California school that’s laid off support staff, reports the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. The classified employees’ union at Petaluma Junior High School claims it’s illegal for volunteers to supervise at lunch, answer phones in the front office or help a salaried librarian monitor students in the library before classes begin, all paid jobs that were eliminated due to budget cuts. The union even opposes the use of parent volunteers in new positions.

Volunteers, including teachers, renovate decaying schools in NBC’s School Pride, reports HechingerEd.