The number of teachers and support staff is growing at a slightly faster pace than enrollment in the schools where they work, according to data from the state Education Department.
The reason: the increasing number of requirements on students and school districts, said Bob Neel, executive director of accreditation and standards for the Education Department.
“By steadily increasing the expectations on a number of credits a kid gets and how much is offered by the schools, it's had to happen that way,” Neel said.
The number of students enrolled in Oklahoma's public schools has gone up about 13 percent in the past 20 years.
That translates to about 88,000 more students in school during this academic year compared to the 1991-92 school year.
But during the same time period, the number of teachers and support staff has grown even more quickly.
The number of teachers has gone from about 43,000 to 50,000 — an increase of 16 percent.
The number of support staff has gone from about 27,500 to 33,000 — an
More graduation requirements mean more teachers to teach the classes, Neel said.
Recruiting quality staff for certain subjects, like math and foreign languages, can be especially
School districts also face more complicated regulations than in years past, such as expanded rules about special education, Neel said. Districts need more administrators and staff to keep up with those demands.
Even though the number of teachers and staff is increasing, some teachers have larger classrooms than in the past, Alicia Priest, vice president of the Oklahoma Education Association.
“Even if we look at the long-term, we are still increasing enrollment at an alarming rate.”