A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

The Detroit Public Schools could be faced with a staffing dilemma in a couple of years if steps are not taken to reduce the number of teachers employed by the district. If projections of dwindling student counts are accurate, the district could soon have 1,800 more teachers than it needs, with the annual bill to pay them costing in the range of $100 million.

Detroit Public Schools had 5,029 full-time teachers and 88,774 students in 2009-10, according to the Michigan Department of Education. But DPS officials estimate that there will be 58,517 students enrolled in 2014. This would mean that the district would have lost 61 percent of its student enrollment since 2003-04 when it had 150,000 students.

Measured by how similarly-sized American school districts are staffed, this would leave DPS 57 percent overstaffed with teachers. School districts with student enrollments close to Detroit’s projected 58,500 have about 1,800 fewer teachers than DPS currently has. In 2008-09, there were four schools in the country with student enrollment between 57,000 and 59,000. Those districts averaged 3,212 full-time equivalency teaching positions. 

  • The Tucson Unified District in Tucson, Arizona, had 57,391 pupils and 3,352 full-time teacher positions.
  • The Santa Ana Unified district in Santa Ana, California had 57,439 students and 2,579 teachers.
  • The Garland Independent School District in Garland, Texas, had 57,510 students and 3,785 teachers.
  • The Douglas County School District in Castle Rock, Colorado, had 58,723 students and 3,133 teachers.

The most recent ranking of school district financial data by the Michigan Department of Education is for 2008-09. It reports that the avereage teacher salary at the Detroit Public Schools was $71,031.

At this average salary, employing those 1,800 teachers will cost the district nearly $128 million extra each year.

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See also:

The Media Myth of the 60-Student Detroit Classroom

Shrinking Detroit Schools

Northern Michigan University economist Hugo Eyzaguirre discusses how raising the minimum wage will hurt emerging local economies. See more at "Raising the Minimum Wage, Lowering Opportunity."


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