Teachers Didn’t Get a Fair Share of Kentucky’s Education Funding Increase

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Since passage of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990, Kentucky Department of Education reports show there has been a massive increase in real, inflation-adjusted spending in our school system.

Bluegrass Institute analysis of Kentucky Department of Education Revenue and Expenditure Reports using cost of living adjustments from the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI-U Calculator produced the data in Table 1.

Table 1

In constant, 2009 inflation-adjusted dollars, total expenditures on education in our school system rose from $3.584 billion in the last school term before KERA took effect to $5.553 billion as of the most recently available data. Very simply, Kentucky’s real spending on education increased by 54.9 percent between the 1989-90 and 2008-09 school terms.

But, Kentucky’s teachers didn’t share in this major real funding increase.

Also shown in the first table, Bluegrass Institute analysis of data in the Kentucky Department of Education’s latest classroom teacher salary report indicates the real increase in Kentucky’s average teacher’s salary only rose by 12.6 percent. So, where did all the money go?

A major portion went to pay for a huge increase in non-teacher staff.

Data from the federal National Center for Education Statistics Digest of Education Statistics 1990, Table 80 and from Table 81 in the Digest of Education Statistics 2009 were gathered to create Table 2, which shows the growth in numbers of Kentucky’s school staff overall, by teacher growth only, and by non-teacher staff growth only.

Table 2

Very simply, the increase in non-teacher staffing in Kentucky skyrocketed over the past two decades, rising three times as much as the increase in teachers.

As a note, the Kentucky Department of Education’s Growth Factor report for 2006-07 shows that in this school year the state had a total public school student membership of 646,543 students. Older, SD-125R reports from the department, obtained by the Bluegrass Institute’s education analyst in hard copy years ago, show that in the 1989-90 school year total public school membership in Kentucky was 630,688.

Thus, Kentucky’s student population only increased 2.45 percent in the same time interval that the state’s teaching staff increased 21.8 percent and the non-teaching school staff skyrocketed 59.4 percent.

It is clear from the comments above that some of the increased spending on teacher salaries was distributed among more teachers. This kept individual teacher salary increases low.

One big beneficiary of the increase in teachers and staff was the Kentucky Education Association, which gets more dues money when there are increases in the number of teachers and in many other staff who also have teaching certification. However, as the table above shows, the state’s huge increase in spending didn’t do nearly as much for those individual classroom teachers in Kentucky whom the union is supposed to represent.

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