by Dr. Robert Luebke
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Did the coronavirus pandemic change staffing levels for North Carolina public schools? There is a widespread belief that the closing or transformation of many public schools to virtual or hybrid schools has resulted in the loss of or layoff of thousands of educators.
The table above provides data from the Department of Public Instruction. The list includes full-time state, federal and local employees who teach in North Carolina public schools. A comparison of public-school personnel for 2019-20 and 2020-21, finds while the total number of the number of full-time certified school personnel increased by 15, when combined with non-Certified staff losses, the total number of school personal actually declined by 1,555, a percentage decline of eight-tenths of one percent. The area of major losses were teacher assistants (812), Other, Non-Certified (-748) and teachers (462). Those numbers would have been higher were it not for the hiring of 420 instructional support personnel who helped with the transition to virtual and remote learning.
Considering two-thirds of the state’s 1.5 million students began the school year last August learning remotely, the loss of only 1,600 staff – about 13.5 staff members per LEA, seems small. No doubt personnel losses were also moderated by legislative provisions attached to federal covid legislation that required schools to maintain current staffing and service levels.