Will Carless and I are the People’s Reporters today. You’re our bosses, so send us your tips, questions and assignments on San Diego schools and we’ll do our best to come back with answers today. Specifically, we’re homing in on the district’s possible insolvency and school closures.

We already have a long list to tackle so if you want to get yours in, hustle.

Here’s the first question, from Al Sargeant via email:

I think I hear the number of teachers is the same or up. I hear the number of administrators is down. I hear classroom size is up. I hear enrollment is down. I hear there are teachers not in classrooms. I am confused. How does this fit together?

Can you look at ratio of total students to total teachers on payroll each year over last 7 years for the district? How about total students to total nonteaching positions on payroll each year over last 7 years?

Seems to me that would show a trend.

The question’s especially relevant because of two of the biggest conversations happening around San Diego Unified today: Whether it should be closing schools and whether it needs to lay off more teachers or general staff. The number of students at the district would be a big factor in those decisions.

As Jill Heller pointed out on our first post about the district’s possible insolvency:

The district has had falling enrollment for a number of years, but has not closed any campuses – these will be the first.

Enrollment is down sharply across San Diego Unified. In district-run schools, it has dropped 15 percent since the 2000-01 school year, going from 135,525 to 115,129.

The reason: a rise in popularity of charter schools and simple demographics. Urban districts around the state have experienced drops as well. Over that same time frame, enrollment at the district’s charter schools has tripled.

If you go back just the last seven years, as Al requests, then the drop is less dramatic — 4.5 percent, or 120,580 to 115,129.

Here’s a breakdown of student enrollment for the last 15 years from San Diego Unified.

So, how does that compare to the number of employees at San Diego Unified?

Going back to 2005, both the number of certificated employees (people like teachers, nurses and speech pathologists) and the number of classified employees (people like financial staff, cooks and custodians), has shrunk.

Courtesy image

Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: How do staff numbers compare to enrollment?

This graphic shows how the ratio of students-to-certificated employees has changed in the last seven years (please excuse the rudimentary graphics, our guru Keegan Kyle is in court today so I had to do these myself):

Keep in mind that this ratio isn’t student-to-teachers. Certificated employees include positions like speech therapists, nurses and school psychologists.

Now, on to the ratio of students-to-classified employees has changed:

This is the first time I’ve delved into these numbers so I can’t pretend to have a great analysis. I’d like to drill down deeper into the certificated employees to just get the teacher figures, but this is what I have for now. Now you know what the numbers are, what do you think? What else would you like to know? Does that seem high/low?

I’m the editor of VOSD. You can reach me at andrew.donohue@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0526.

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