The ABCs of New York City school funding make no sense — as enrollment has gone down, staffing has gone up, according to a government watchdog.
While the number of students fell by 8.6 percent between 2000-2001 and 2014-2015, staffing levels rose by 3.2 percent, the Empire Center for Public Policy reported Tuesday.
And the city was the worst culprit in the state.
“The greatest disparity between student enrollment and staffing trends has been in New York City,” the group said.
Most of the overstaffing occurred outside teacher ranks.
The number of Big Apple teachers increased just 1.7 percent over the 14-year period, while the number of nonteaching professionals jumped 12.3 percent.
A similar trend existed across New York state, with student enrollment dropping nearly 10 percent over the same period while staffing levels fell by just 3 percent.
“The full extent of the continuing rise in school spending since the recession was not inevitable or unavoidable,” the watchdog group concluded.
“It was the result of (a) increasing teacher-compensation costs driven largely by automatic pay raises, and (b) continued relatively high levels of staffing, relative to enrollment, especially in nonteaching titles.”
School officials in the city defended the growth, citing a system where smaller schools replaced some of the largest ones.
“During this time, several hundred new schools opened — requiring roughly an additional 1,100 principals and assistant principals to manage them,” said one official.
“This accounts for the vast majority of the increase in nonteaching staff in this report.”
The state-funded share of public-school expenses is now at an all-time record of nearly $25 billion, and the state budget for 2017 included an increase of $1.5 billion to school aid.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be that way, the Empire Center said.
“The school lobby wants state lawmakers to accept the premise that education spending needs to rise every single year,” said Empire Center policy analyst Ken Girardin.
“We’re presenting data collected by the state that shows this may not be the case.”
Girardin stressed that it’s the quality — not the quantity — of teachers and staffers that is most important.
“Some parents might assume the smaller the class size, the better, but teacher quality and institutional standards are probably more important than class size,” he said.