The final article in our strategic staffing series focuses on educational aides and campus clerical staff.
General educational aides provide a variety of duties that involve working with students individually and in small groups, reinforcing daily lessons, motivating learning, assessing student progress, and assisting with classroom management. Examples of general educational aides include physical education (PE), library, clinic, general education classroom, bilingual, Pre-K, computer lab, and in-school suspension.
Special education aides assist teachers in the development and management of the individual education plan for students with disabilities; support students’ individual needs such as toileting, feeding, and dressing; and collect student data when needed. Some special education aides may serve in a 1:1 assignment as determined by the annual, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee. Others serve in an inclusion model or a self-contained classroom setting.
Campus clerical staff include receptionists, clerks, and secretaries. Receptionists greet visitors, check students in and out of the campus, and provide general clerical assistance. Attendance and Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) clerks enter and maintain accurate attendance and student data records in the district’s student data system. Campus secretaries support the operation of the school administrative office, counseling office, or other campus departments (e.g., athletics, career and technical education, fine arts) and provide clerical services.
Statewide, educational aides are staffed at approximately 14.2 positions per 1,000 students. This includes both general education and special education. Proportionately, staffing at the elementary level is higher than at the secondary level. Staffing elementary campuses at approximately 16 positions per 1,000 students and secondary campuses at approximately 12 positions per 1,000 students will place a district close to the statewide benchmark.
An independent evaluation of special education aide staffing based on information provided in Strategic Staffing: Part 4—Special Education should first be conducted. Once the staffing level of this program is determined, additional aide allocations for general education can be determined.
Projections for educational aides can be made using the benchmark data above. A 500-student elementary campus would require eight educational aides (500 students/1,000 X 16 elementary benchmark = 8 educational aides) to align with the benchmark. A 1,500-student high school would require 18 educational aides (1,500 students/1,000 X 12 secondary benchmark = 18 educational aides) to align with the benchmark.
A peer district analysis can be conducted using TASB HRDataSource™ as presented in Strategic Staffing: Part 1. Educational aide titles can be found in the Paraprofessional Support category and include classroom teacher aide, computer lab aide, library aide, parent liaison, and special education aide (general/resource and self-contained). These positions can be compared as a group or on an individual basis and reveal additional information that may be helpful in making staffing determinations.
Some other considerations include the following:
- Allocate elementary PE aides based on student enrollment (e.g., one PE aide per 350 students).
- Use state compensatory education or Title funds to allocate intervention aides based on the number of free/reduced lunch students on the campus.
- Staff each Pre-K classroom with one teacher and one aide to align with the recommended 1:11 staffing ratio.
Campus clerical staff
The benchmark for clerical staff is 5.5 positions per 1,000 students at the secondary campuses, with a minimum of three positions. The elementary campus benchmark is 4.5 positions per 1,000 students, with a minimum of two positions.
Elementary campuses should always be staffed with a minimum of two staff. This staffing level ensures safety and customer service is a priority. Often, clerical staff at the elementary campuses may be assigned multiple roles juggling a variety of tasks.
Secondary clerical staff are typically more specialized due to larger enrollments at secondary campuses compared to elementary campuses and a greater staffing level determined by the benchmark. Adjustments may be made for secondary campuses (e.g., alternative campus) with lower enrollments. As an example, staffing a 200-student alternative campus with two clerical staff instead of the minimum three positions for secondary campuses is more fiscally responsible.
Strategic staffing is a strategy the human resources department can use to ensure the appropriate allocation of full-time, part-time, and substitute employees necessary to operate efficiently to meet student needs. Designing and implementing a strategic staffing model based on enrollment projections, benchmarking, peer comparisons, program changes, and instructional model analysis helps to determine current and projected staffing needs. This process helps HR easily address concerns, maximize staff utilization, and plan for the future.
Karen Dooley is a senior HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Karen an email at email@example.com.
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