Ominous signs are emerging in recent school board discussions

Burbio's tracker has captivated District Administration readers checking whether their school boards are in sync with others across the nation.

In an ominous sign for K12, staffing cuts and terminations have become more frequent topics at school board meetings over the past year.

K12 data provider Burbio has been tracking various metrics at about 2,000 large school districts that serve 50% of the student population. It found a slight but steady increase in terms such as staffing cuts, staffing reduction and hiring freeze in the minutes of board meetings.

Since the second quarter of 2003, the amount of boards covering these personnel issues has doubled from 2% to more than 4%. Though the numbers seem low, they come as ESSER funds are expiring, some districts are shutting down underenrolled schools and teachers and other staff are demanding salary increases.

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Burbio’s trackers have captivated District Administration readers checking whether their school boards’ discussions are in sync with others in the U.S. The tracker may also serve as a forecast of topics that will soon hit local school board agendas.

Earlier this year, Burbio pegged artificial intelligence in the lead of five other big subjects getting more attention from school boards. Artificial intelligence, along with terms such as ChatGPT and generative AI, appeared in the minutes of just 5% of school board meetings in the first quarter of 2023. That figure soared, nearly tripling to just under 15% by the end of the year.

The other more prevalent topics were cybersecurity, science of reading, chronic absenteeism and learning recovery. None of those issues, however, were discussed as often as the most popular 10 topics Burbio identified in the fall of 2023:

  1. Special education
  2. Mental health
  3. Nurse
  4. Staffing
  5. Negotiations
  6. Labor
  7. Contractor
  8. Bargaining
  9. Behavior services
  10. Psychologist
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is the managing editor of District Administration and a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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