Nearly 40% of the nation’s largest school districts are facing staff reductions and school closures due to lost enrollment. More than half of large districts are scrambling to incentivize staff to stay put amid a tight job market, often by pouring federal pandemic relief dollars into salary bonuses for current and new hires, or expanding programs to recruit and retain new teachers. That is our current state as we approach a new school year. Testing coordinators are on watch as we tally numbers of students needing tests and the number of staff available to administer them.
- The pandemic’s impact was wildly variable among large districts, whose enrollment dictates their livelihood. In some states, attendance also affects that per-pupil funding allotment.
- Few districts reporting enrollment drops appear to be spending their relief dollars on efforts to re-enroll students. Instead, more districts are spending their one-time funds on teacher recruitment and retention, which means staffing cuts may loom on the horizon when stimulus funds dry up.
- Districts losing students consider staff cuts, school closures
- Using pandemic dollars to lure back families – and funding
- Using pandemic dollars to stabilize the workforce
- District leaders should balance using one-time funds to save teacher positions with investments to re-engage students
Listening to families, incorporating their ideas, and making their children feel connected is not only good practice, but also a way to build community support and to balance short-term staffing needs with long-term teacher retention.