Jobs for adults

Patrick Gibbons

Inflation-adjusted salary and benefits per pupil at CCSD from 2004-11 (2010 dollars). Click on the graph to zoom in.

Staffing hurt by budget cuts” writes the Las Vegas Sun. Yes, that is true, in part. But when you take a close look at tax dollars devoted to salaries and benefits for K-12 education in Nevada, you’ll notice that salary and benefits outstrips inflation and student enrollment growth combined – even within the last couple of years.

2004 was the first full school year in which the 2003 tax increases (then the largest in state history) were available to fund education. (It is also the first year with detailed data available for the Clark County School District’s detailed budgets.) Since 2004, CCSD’s general operating funding per pupil (what they consider the day-to-day operating budget for the school district) increased by 9.8 percent.

Salaries and benefits (per pupil) for CCSD employees grew by 12.1 percent – more than the operating budget and total budget.

This isn’t surprising. After all, in 1955 the Clark County School District employed one person for every 20 students; today it employs one person for every 8 students. We have more employees in education earning far larger salaries and benefits. But is this investment producing the results we need?

Maybe it is time we start thinking about the outcomes for children rather than how many jobs K-12 education can provide for adults.

FYI, if you think 2004 is an arbitrary figure to select, those figures are higher than the spending for 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003, with 2000 being the low point in the last decade. And if you are worried about the recent budget cuts, these increases INCLUDE the budget cuts. In fact, per pupil spending devoted to salary and benefits hasn’t gone down AT ALL since the recession started.