DENVER (KDVR) – Teachers had a tough time with the pandemic school year, but it was support workers who ended up leaving their jobs in higher numbers.
The Colorado Department of Education tracks the number of employees of all kinds held by each school district. While there was teacher turnover between the school years beginning in 2019 and 2020, schools ended up losing more employees from other sectors.
There are two ways to look at how school employment fared over the pandemic – turnover rates and the raw total of missing employees from one academic year to the next.
Turnover rate simply measures the percentage of employees who left for whatever reason from one year to the next.
Teachers left certain districts at much higher rates than others between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.
Sheridan 2 district schools, for example, had a 26.9% teacher turnover rate, followed by Clear Creek and Elizabeth districts.
The schools with the highest turnover rates, though, aren’t necessarily the same schools that ended up suffering from teacher or worker shortages.
The 18 school districts in the Denver metro area lost a collective 252 teachers by the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.
Douglas County district schools suffered the most from teacher shortages.
The district started the 2020-21 school year with 72 fewer teachers than it had the year prior. Jefferson County schools had 49 fewer teachers, Boulder Valley had 41 fewer and Denver Public Schools had 29 fewer.
Overall though, the Denver metro’s school ended up ahead in teacher rolls. A handful of districts entered the new semester with more teachers than the previous year.
Adams-Arapahoe school district gained 139 teachers, Cherry Creek schools gained 79 and Mapleton gained 63, among others.
In all, the Denver metro’s districts gained 76 teachers from one year to the next.
Schools conversations usually focus on teachers, but that isn’t where the bulk of employment was lost over the pandemic years.
Paraprofessionals, craft and service workers and administrators were larger shares of school district’s employment deficits.
Denver schools lost over 150 administrators over the school years – by far the largest loss of administrators in the Denver metro. Cherry Creek, by comparison, lost only 12. The rest of the school districts lost or gained about five.
On the other hand, most schools lost craft, trade and service workers: bus drivers, brick masons, cooks and building maintenance workers.
All but four districts lost trade and service workers, and in high numbers.
Paraprofessionals were hit even worse than service workers. Nearly 900 paraprofessionals were missing from the Denver metro’s schools in the 2020-21 year as the year before.
This job category includes therapists, coaches, tutors, counselor assistants, bilingual assistants and braillists.