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Many factors drive RSS staff growth

Philip J. Kirk Jr., chairman emeritus of the State Board of Education, responds to a recent article about growth in the number of Rowan-Salisbury School System employees versus growth in student numbers:
It is not fair to the Rowan-Salisbury School System to point out that the number of employees is growing faster than the student population without looking deeper to determine the reasons for this growth. Permit me to give just a few of the reasons.
All elementary schools have full-time assistant principals for the first time in an effort to improve curriculum, student safety, accountablity, and other aspects of a comprehensive school improvement program.
Much-needed class size reductions in K-3 have been mandated by Governors Hunt and Easley and approved by the General Assembly. That requires more teachers, teacher assistants, and classroom space.
The federal No Child Left Behind law, while criticized by many for not being fully funded and for being too rigid in its application, has resulted in the hiring of more school personnel in an effort to provide more instruction, especially for those who are achieving at below grade level. Additional tutoring and remediation requires additional employees. Curriculum coaches have been hired across the system.
More teachers have been hired for the exceptional children’s program as that population continues to grow. The same is true in the case of the English as a second language program. The local schools have students who speak more than 35 different languages.
Population growth results in more students, which ultimately requires more employees in auxiliary services, such as custodians, school food service workers, bus drivers, etc. This is especially true as we continue to open new schools. Public school enrollment in Rowan County has increased by 1,725 students in the past decade and is expected to accelerate in the future.
So in the future, before throwing out figures on percentage growth, we should look at the reasons for additional employees. The same can be said for the state of North Carolina, which has grown by more than 1.5 million people in the past decade or so. Our school population, prison population, as well as governmental service employees, have grown to deliver mandated services to the population on a timely basis.

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