Fairfax teacher workforce grows over five years

September 18, 2013

Fairfax County hired fewer teachers this year than in the past, with 1,841 new teachers entering classrooms this fall.

Despite the fewer hires, the school system’s teacher workforce continues to grow at a rate similar to the increases in the student body.

In the past five years, the number of teachers in Fairfax County has grown by 8.95 percent. During the same period, the student population grew up about 6.37 percent, with 184,625 students projected to enroll this year.

The student-to-teacher ratio has declined over five years from 12.63 students per teacher to about 12.33 this year.

The data about new teachers came from a Thursday report to the school board by new superintendent Karen Garza.

During the recession, many teachers chose not to retire or leave the system to better weather the uncertain economy, administrators have said in the past.

For the fall of 2012, the school system hired 1,933 new teachers and saw a net increase of 506. The year before, Fairfax County hired 1,751 teachers and had a net increase of 406.

This year, Fairfax County schools has 14,976 teachers, a net increase of 175 teachers compared to last year’s 14,801, which suggests some teachers may feel more comfortable leaving their jobs now that the economy appears to be stabilizing.

In all, the school system’s total number of employees has grown by about 7.65 percent since 2009, with 23,831 on the payroll this year.

The majority of the school system’s $2.5 billion budget pays for employee compensation and it’s likely that the school board will discuss offering raises next year. Representatives for the county’s school employee unions say that morale has reached a record low over pay issues.

On Wednesday night, Garza and union leaders from the Fairfax Education Association and the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers likely will discuss teacher workload and compensation at a Washington Post sponsored event at Fairfax High School. The event begins at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
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