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Exclusive: LAUSD continues to add employees as enrollment drops

Mike Szymanski | August 28, 2017

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The number of LA Unified employees has increased even as enrollment continues to decline, according to district figures compiled this month for the new school year but not yet posted.

This is in direct defiance of the strong recommendation by an Independent Financial Review Panel that urged a reduction of about 10,000 staff members, including administrators, classified, and certificated personnel, for a savings of half a billion dollars a year.

The statistics are found in the Fingertip Facts sheet, which was on display at the “Kids First Help Desk” during Tuesday’s first school board meeting of the new school year. The new statistics show that they were updated in August 2017, but they are not yet online on the district’s website.

Some of the surprising numbers on the sheet — such as a 36 percent jump in the cost of books and supplies — revealed that the overall number of employees in the district increased from 60,191 last year to 60,240 now.

That’s an overall increase of 49 employees, but it comes as the district has lost nearly 40,000 students — or 6 percent of its K-12 enrollment — just since the 2016-17 school year and faces a dire budget crisis.

Although the numbers of teachers and administrators have decreased, the numbers rose for certificated support and classified personnel, which includes nurses, counselors, psychologists, and other non-instructional support staff. They went up by 595 more jobs, or nearly 2 percent, to 31,729, from 31,134 last year.

Superintendent Michelle King has said in the past that the district needed to hire more employees, both to meet future expected shortages and to replenish the widespread cuts made under former Superintendent John Deasy’s administration during the last recession. Principals at many schools have complained of cuts in custodial and office support staff.

The number of teachers continued to drop, from 26,558 in the last school year to 26,046 this school year.

Administrators went from 2,456 in 2015-16 to 2,501 last year and are now back down to 2,456 in the new school year. Next year, the district may also have to contend with a penalty the state imposes when a school district has too many administrators compared to students. Last year LA Unified had increased its administrative staff even as enrollment declined. In the past, the district has received waivers and has not had to pay the penalty for surpassing the ratio. But next year officials predict the penalty will be $24 million.

For the first time since the 2006 Fingertip Facts, the latest fact sheet — which has the new “Kids First” logo at the top — doesn’t have a breakout of students enrolled in independent charter schools. Last year, it showed that 107,142 students were enrolled in independent charter schools.

This year, the number was included in the superintendent’s budget report, not the Fingertip Facts sheet. It estimated that 113,781 students are enrolled in independent charter schools this school year. And, for the first time, the district estimated the number of students enrolled in independent charter schools that are no longer authorized by LA Unified but are now under the control of other local and state agencies. That number is 1,956 students this year.

The number of schools in the district increased overall by four, from 1,302 to 1,306. Despite the widely touted launch of new schools such as the all-boys school called Boys Academic Leadership Academy, the Maywood Center for Enriched Studies, and Horace Mann UCLA Community School, as well as 11 new independent charter schools, the district figures show some decreases in specific areas.

The total number of independent charter schools dropped from 228 to 224, district elementary schools dropped from 451 to 448, middle schools fell from 83 to 81, and high schools fell from 96 to 94 this year.

Increases came with magnet centers that went from 169 to 177 this year, and magnet schools that went from 44 to 49 this year.

The overall number of students now combines independent and affiliated charter students with district students, and they are broken down into segments of K-3, 4-6th grades, 7-8th grades, and 9-12th grades.

This year, the total number of K-12 students including charter students dropped almost 6 percent to 625,523; last year it was 664,774.

Adult education students increased from 69,867 to this year’s 76,220.

That means the total number of students enrolled at LA Unified has fallen to 701,743, from 734,641 last year.

Although the employee numbers went up slightly, the cost of salaries for both certificated and classified employees have dropped, after an increase the year before.

Certificated salaries increased last year to $3.18 billion from $3.03 billion in 2015, and this year they are down to $2.87 billion. Classified salaries had increased last year to $976 million from $871 million in 2015 and are now $915 million.

The district noted in an email statement Friday, “Clerical staffing and new positions increased in this year’s final budget, causing a slight rise in overall employment. Those employees, and their salary ranges, varied widely when long standing workers were replaced by new hires, leading to lower salaries overall.”

Books and supplies increased 36 percent this year, from $571 million last year to $774 million for the current school year.

Total expenses in the district dropped from $7.59 billion to $7.46 billion this year.

The student demographics are the same: 74 percent Latino, 9.8 percent white, 8.4 percent black, and 6 percent Asian. A total of 94 languages are spoken other than English, and 157,619 district students are English learners, 84 percent are lower-income, and 7,000 are foster care students.

Also, for the first time — and also available on the welcome table — was a sheet listing LA Unified accomplishments, including its record 77 percent graduation rate in 2016, that 84 district schools were listed among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report, that 32,000 students who graduated in June were accepted into LA community colleges through the new Los Angeles College Promise program, and other national awards won over the past year in various schools.

Click here for the Fingertip Facts sheet in English (front and back) and Spanish (frente y detrás).

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