DENVER (KDVR) – Teachers struggled with the pandemic school year, but it was support workers who ended up losing their jobs in greater numbers.
The Colorado Department of Education tracks the number of employees of all kinds held by each school district. Although there was a turnover of teachers between the school years starting in 2019 and 2020, schools ended up losing more staff from other sectors.
There are two ways to look at how school employment has performed during the pandemic – turnover rates and the gross total of missing employees from one school year to the next.
The turnover rate simply measures the percentage of employees who have left for some reason from one year to the next.
Teachers left some districts at much higher rates than others between the 2019-2020 and 2020-21 academic years.
Schools in Sheridan District 2, for example, had a teacher turnover rate of 26.9%, followed by Clear Creek and Elizabeth Districts.
The schools with the highest turnover rates, however, are not necessarily the same schools that ended up suffering from teacher or worker shortages.
All 18 school districts in the Denver metro area lost 252 teachers at the start of the 2020-21 school year.
Douglas County district schools have suffered the most from teacher shortages.
The district started the 2020-21 school year with 72 fewer teachers than the previous year. Jefferson County schools had 49 fewer teachers, Boulder Valley 41 fewer, and Denver Public Schools 29 fewer.
Overall, however, the Denver Metro School topped the teacher rankings. A handful of districts entered the new semester with more teachers than the previous year.
The Adams-Arapahoe School District won 139 teachers, Cherry Creek Schools won 79, and Mapleton won 63, among others.
In total, Denver’s metro districts have gained 76 teachers year over year.
Conversations in schools typically focus on teachers, but that’s not where the bulk of jobs have been lost in the years of the pandemic.
Paraprofessionals, trades and service workers, and administrators accounted for a larger share of the school district’s employment deficits.
Denver schools have lost more than 150 administrators over the course of the school years – by far the biggest loss of administrators in the Denver subway. Cherry Creek, in comparison, lost only 12. The rest of the school districts lost or gained about five.
On the other hand, most schools have lost crafts, trade and service workers: bus drivers, masons, cooks and building maintenance workers.
All but four districts lost trade and service workers, and in large numbers.
Paraprofessionals were even more affected than service workers. Nearly 900 paraprofessionals were missing from Denver metro schools in the year 2020-21 as in the previous year.
This job category includes therapists, coaches, tutors, assistant counselors, bilingual assistants and braillists.
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