- Denver school board members are questioning layoffs made in the district office last fall. After a teacher strike last year, Superintendent Susana Cordova agreed to cut $17 million from this year's budget and 150 administrative jobs to pay for teacher raises, but many have reportedly been rehired in different positions, according to Chalkbeat.
- Schools in Colorado expect deep cuts in state funding due to coronavirus business closures, prompting talks of budget cuts and teacher pay freezes. Denver Public Schools has a $1.1 billion budget.
- The DPS 2019-20 budget was approved in June, cutting $17 million from the administrative division and adding $53 million to school budgets, mainly for teacher salaries.
Retired Denver teacher Margaret Bobb filed several open records requests to find out about the administrative cuts. According to Chalkbeat, Bobb compared a list of people whose jobs were eliminated to people who now work in the central office. She said she discovered more than 90 administrators who were laid off are still there. She also found only $10 million in staff cuts, though district officials said other savings were made to bring the total cuts to $17 million.
The pending impact of the coronavirus-induced recession will likely force layoffs for non-teaching staff members nationwide. School funding is likely to fall due to lower tax revenues, especially in higher-poverty districts that depend more on state funding.
This environment could also see a reemergence of criticism in regard to perceived "administrative bloat" in school and district offices. According to numbers cited by the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank, as the last recession wound down, between 1950 and 2009, the number of administrators increased by 702%, while the number of teachers grew by 252%, and the number of students increased by 96%. Between 1992 and 2009, the number of students increased by 17%, while the number of administrative and non-teaching staff jumped by 46%.
As of the 2016-17 school year, Denver had one administrator for every 7.5 instructional staffers, which surpasses the Colorado statewide average of one per 11.3 instructors.
Teacher contracts that were in the works pre-pandemic already are being reexamined.
New York City’s Department of Education, for instance, rebargained with the United Federation of Teachers shortly after schools closed to add sick day provisions that would allow religious observation during spring break — through which teachers were required to work — without the loss of personal days.
There are also renegotiations going on in states where teacher pay is tied to standardized tests, most of which have been canceled this school year.
In the coming months, the way districts and unions negotiate may drastically change. Both sides are working together to address the pandemic-related closures but the cohesiveness may fizzle come summer, experts predict.