EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — While teacher staffing levels drop across the state, one Wisconsin district has grown.
Over the last five years, most of the top 10 school districts in the state have had their staffing levels shrink. However, they’ve shrunk along with enrollment, and enrollment has often dropped at an even greater rate.
Broken down by district, ranked by enrollment size, according to data from the Wisconsin Policy Forum:
- Milwaukee Public Schools has 2.4% fewer teachers than it did five years ago. It has 9.3% fewer students than it did back then.
- The Madison Metropolitan School District has .3% fewer teachers than it did in the 2016-17 school year. Its student body has shrunk by 5.5% in that time.
- In Kenosha, the district has 1.4% fewer teachers than it did five years ago. Its student body 11% smaller than it was then.
- The Green Bay Area Public School District has 2.8% fewer teachers than it did in the 2016-17 school year. It has 9.3% fewer students than it did that school year.
- The Racine Unified School District’s staff is 6.2% smaller than it was five years ago. Its student body has shrunk 13.5% in that time.
- In Appleton, the school district has .5% fewer teachers than it did in the 2016-17 school year. It has 7% fewer students.
- The School District of Waukesha teaching staff has shrunk by 3.7% in the last five years. Its enrollment has dropped 7.6% in that same time period.
- In Eau Claire, the school district has 3.7% more teachers than it did in the 2016-17 school year. In that same timeframe, its student body has shrunk by 1.7%.
- The Sheboygan Area School District has .7% fewer teachers than it did five years ago. Since then, its enrollment has dropped by 6.3%.
- The School District of Janesville has 1.5% more teachers than it did in the 2016-17 school year. It has 7.3% fewer students now than it did then.
Most of those districts had staffing levels drop between the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school districts as well.
The exception to those rules is the Eau Claire Area School District. It’s the only one of the top 10 that’s grown its staff over the last five years, and between the ’20-21 and ’21-22 school years.
District staff credit that to college student recruitment.
“It’s probably 100% related to our relationships with local universities and our continuing fostering of that relationship. We have excellent partnerships with UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout and UW-River Falls, most of them are in our backyard,” said Brandon Wick, ECASD HR Manager.
“We take student teachers in from those organizations. Once they start here, they love the culture, they love the climate and the organization,” Wick said.
That recruitment and retention can have a huge impact on students.
“There’s consistency, where they can see the same teachers in their buildings year after year, and building those relationships and having those safe individuals,” Wick said. “Anytime a student feels safe, they are able to be fully engaged in education and learn more.”
Most school districts have openings heading into the new school year, especially when it comes to non-teaching staff like substitutes and bus drivers.