Wyoming Liberty Group
Top Heavy Staffing In Wyoming Education
Here is a question often heard since the extent of Wyoming’s K-12 funding shortfall has become widely discussed; “Is Wyoming education top-heavy with administrative staff?” The short answer would appear to be yes.
Graph 1 uses data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) from fall 2013 (the most recent available) in two separate tables to obtain for comparison the number of total staff, total teachers and enrollment by state plus Washington D.C. By subtracting the number of teachers from total staff we obtain the number of non-teacher staff. From that, we plot one dot per state in a scattergram. The horizontal (independent) axis shows student enrollment for fall of 2013. The vertical axis shows the number of students per non-teaching staff person as a proxy for efficiency of non-teacher staff. The higher on the vertical axis a state falls, the more efficient it could be said to be.
It is clear that Wyoming’s 9.9 is at the extreme low end of all states and not by a small margin. The average (“mean”) of all states is 16.2 and the median is 14.9.
Wyoming is a small state in terms of student enrollment at 92,732 so it might be fairer for us to compare it to states with similarly sized student populations. Graph 2 shows all jurisdictions with enrollment less than 200,000. Wide variation is present even among these small states and Wyoming is, again at the extreme low end (least efficient) of number of students per non-teacher staff. Note the R2 value of the linear trendline equation. It is small, indicating very little correlation between the number of students enrolled and the number of students per non-teacher staff. Table 1 shows the list of states, their values, the mean and median.
There are many factors that go into determining non-teacher staffing levels; some could be education philosophy, student socio-economic background, geographic location, labor union involvement and others.
Wyoming may be most comparable, among these similar-size peers, to North and South Dakota and Montana. They appear to be much more efficient than we are in non-teacher staff utilization. How much would Wyoming save if it achieved ratios similar to theirs?
A jaw-dropper appears in Graph 3 which displays Wyoming school districts and 2016-17 enrollment figures. The trend line R2 again shows little correlation between enrollment and the non-teacher staff ratio. In fact, to the naked eye, it looks as though districts with more than 6,000 students may actually be less efficient. We offer kudos to Bighorn #1, Sheridan #1 & #2, and Teton #1 which, at least according to this analysis, make most efficient use of non-teacher staff. Bighorn #2, Uinta #4 and Sweetwater #1 get honorable mentions.
Wyoming’s “cost-based” funding model is probably one root cause of such outlandish numbers. It is based on evidence supplied by consultants who draw their data primarily from big metropolitan areas (that’s where the people are) and presumably attempt to scale it for lesser populated areas. Happily, the education omnibus bill recently passed by the legislature requires a new, hard look at that model.
So, we see that the answer to our original question is, yes, Wyoming K-12 appears top-heavy with non-teaching staff. The time has come for much more careful personnel management in education. The school system is for educating kids, not creating unnecessary jobs.