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Impact of Financial Constraints on Administrative Staffing

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Districts across the nation are trimming administrative positions and using funds for teacher salaries and other instructional support according to a recent article from Education Week.

Districts have been faced with budget limitations for years, but the federal relief funds (i.e., Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) provided a temporary buffer. As these relief funds expire, districts will be forced to make difficult decisions on where to cut costs, and many are focusing on administrative positions.  

Enrollment Decline

A contributing factor in the financial struggle of school districts is the decline in student enrollment. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school enrollment decreased from 50.8 million in 2019 to 49.4 million in 2020 nationwide. Projections show the downward slope continuing with estimated enrollment at 46.9 million in 2031.

Texas experienced a slight dip in public school enrollment in 2020-2021 of approximately 122,000 students according to the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) Standard Report for Student Enrollment. The most recent data indicated an increase of 146,000 students in the 2022-2023 school year, and this number is expected to continue to rise.  

Many assume that fewer students translate to cost savings, but that isn’t the case. As a result of the pandemic, districts are experiencing intensified student academic, social, and emotional needs, requiring additional services and support. Some districts have expanded administrative roles, through additional instructional support, to facilitate hybrid learning, train teachers on new technologies, and manage evolving state and federal mandates in response to the crisis.

Administrator Salaries

When it comes to cost-cutting discussions, the spotlight often falls on administrator salaries. However, the notion these salaries consume an outsized portion of district budgets and have increased significantly isn’t entirely accurate. Nationally, administrator salaries represented 7.3 percent of district costs in 2011, only slightly increasing to 7.5 percent in more recent data. Similarly, Texas PEIMS data shows administrator salaries made up 7.3 percent of district personnel costs in 2011-2012, inching up to 8.1 percent in 2022-2023.

Moving Forward

As districts look for ways to cut spending, their focus is primarily directed at personnel costs, which typically represent 80 to 85 percent of a district's total budget. Before making decisions on reducing personnel, districts should review all staff and their roles within the organization. Strategic staffing is essential, ensuring the district has appropriately allocated staff and resources aligned with the evolving needs of students. The process of right-sizing district staffing requires careful consideration, transparency, and open communication with employees.

School districts nationwide are making significant changes in the administrative landscape due to financial constraints. As districts encounter enrollment declines, evolving student needs, and financial limitations, they must be strategic in their decision-making process. Maintaining a clear focus on student needs is essential as districts navigate these challenges.   


The Administrator’s Guide to Strategic Staffing is a valuable resource which provides districts with the tools to implement a strategic staffing model ensuring the district is appropriately staffed to meet student needs. This guide can be purchased online in the TASB store.

Additional resources for staffing are available in the HR Library (member login required). Topics include benefits of strategic staffing, benchmarking, reducing personnel costs, and specific strategic staffing approaches for various employee categories (e.g., instructional and administrative support, teachers, special education staffing, and auxiliary staffing).

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Shannon Burns
Shannon Burns
HR Consultant

Shannon Burns joined HR Services in 2023 as an HR consultant. She has 22 years of experience in public school districts serving as an executive director of human resources, special programs coordinator, campus administrator, and teacher.

Burns earned her master’s degree from Texas A&M in Kingsville and her superintendent certificate from The University of Texas at Tyler.

HR Services

TASB HR Services supports HR leadership in Texas schools through membership offerings in specialized training, consulting, and other services.
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