State has enough teachers through 2017

The aim of the pre-kindergarten system overhaul “is not to say, ‘You did not do well last year, you’re done.’ ” John white, state superintendent of education

Despite recent declines, Louisiana should have an adequate supply of public school teachers for the next five years, state officials said Tuesday.

The forecast was prepared by Mark Brantley, a consultant for the Education Estimating Conference, which tracks public school trends.

“In the aggregate, there appears to be a surplus of teachers to meet the near term demand for classroom teachers,” according to the 36-page report.

Teacher ranks have dropped for two consecutive years and are likely to do so again in the current one.

The total dipped from 50,004 in 2009-10 to 48,066 in 2011-12.

Another reduction to 47,366 teachers is forecast for the current school year.

But Brantley’s report predicts that teacher numbers will then rise for the next four school years, to 49,042 by the 2016-17 school year.

About 3,000 new teachers per year will stem from new certifications, 500 through a visa program to attract teachers from other countries and about 50 per year for out-of-state teachers who meet certification standards.

While teacher ranks fluctuate, the report did not spell out why the numbers would grow over the next five years.

Brantley also said the breakdown of new and veteran teachers shows a good mix by looking at those who are vested — eligible for retirement benefits — and non-vested.

However, Brantley said individual school districts may experience shortages, including when it comes to those who teach special education, mathematics and science.

Most teachers who leave the profession either retired — nearly 25 percent — or were forced out by layoffs — 18 percent, according to exit interviews for the 2010-11 school year.

Personal reasons account for another 13 percent, according to the study.

Mary-Patricia Wray, legislative and political director for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, questioned predictions that the state will have plenty of teachers over the next five years.

Wray said the outlook is based in part on suspect student enrollment projections.

Brantley’s review says the state should have an adequate supply of teachers for the next five years despite a predicted growth in the student population.

That total is expected to rise to nearly 658,000 students by 2017, compared with an estimated 638,000 in the current school year.

In another area, Louisiana’s dropout rate declined from 18,665 students in 2005-06 to 10,520 in 2009-10 and 9,376 in 2010-11.

The improvement likely stems from a push by the state to improve its high school graduation rate to 80 percent by 2014.