Late last month, Axios ran a piece titled: “Teacher crisis grips Austin schools.” As the article’s title would suggest, the Virginia-based media outlet keyed in on a perceived teacher shortage in Austin ISD (while never once mentioning the huge student enrollment decline in process, with the district shrinking from 83,270 students in 2016-17 to 75,075 students in 2020-21.)
In the course of explaining the issue, the author offers this small-but-interesting side note: “[Austin ISD] Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde says she has eliminated 60 central office positions to reduce spending by $4.8 million — and is looking to save millions of dollars more.” According to the article, the superintendent did so in order promote the idea of giving existing employees higher pay and bonuses.
Wanting to know more about what the superintendent did, I submitted a Public Information Act request earlier this month seeking information on: “the position and function of those 60 positions eliminated by Austin ISD since August 2020.”
Today, the district responded with the following chart:
There are a few things to note about the information above.
First, of the 60 positions eliminated, almost 14 of those were classified as full-time “TEACHER GENERAL” spots—the most of any category. That’s a little ironic given the premise of Axios’ article. Second, 8 of the 60 positions eliminated were “ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANTS” or “ADMINISTRATIVE SUPERVISORS.” Those tend to be bureaucratic in nature and service the bureaucracy’s needs rather than the public’s. Third, the list doesn’t say how long these positions have gone unfilled. They could have been vacant for a short period or a long time. If the latter, then the district suffers no real harm by purging them.