DeSoto ISD Redesigns Staffing and Recruiting

DeSoto Redesigns Staffing as it Recruits for the Future
Posted on 06/04/2020
Person in front of computer in chair with phone

This spring, DeSoto ISD pivoted its entire district to a remote learning position and developed a robust and continually evolving Anytime, Anywhere Learning model at the onset of the public health crisis, COVID-19. While Anytime, Anywhere Learning was designed out of a response to the crisis, it has become the catalyst that fuels the district’s efforts to redesign the educational experience for students and its organizational approach to professional development and staffing.

Like other organizations, staffing and its associated costs is the district’s largest budget expenditure. The average personnel costs account for 80% of a school district’s operating budget with the other 20% comprising costs associated with capital outlay, supplies, and purchased services.

To ensure that the school district staffing allocations remain within budget, Chief of  Human Resources Mia Stroy and her team developed position controls. Position controls refers to a system of budgetary tracking based on positions and functions rather than actual employees that fill the role. Essentially, it creates a framework for all the jobs that need to be performed within the district.

In the February 10 Board Workshop Human Resources Update, Stroy shared that in DeSoto ISD, position controls are used for four main areas: track budget based on funding source, track headcount, control budget as it relates to substitutes, and maintain data used for regulatory reporting. Upon completion of the position controls phase, the development of the staffing matrix and ratios began with clean data.

“Now that the system is clean, we can take a look at our staffing and use student projections for next year to determine our needs. This process also includes a necessary look at programs and their effectiveness and the staffing needs as we go into budget season and how it will be carried out in the next school year.”

The staffing ratio phase relates the allocation of actual personnel and the number of employees that will be assigned to a specific campus, department or program. It dictates the average number of students assigned to each classroom teacher per campus. This phase produces a matrix based on the current and projected student enrollment and takes into account the funding available. 

Stroy and her team developed the basic staffing allocations for the upcoming year and shared the first glimpse of the report during the April Board Workshop and noted that it included some changes from the base plan presented in early spring 2019.

“When we established the ratios last year, it wasn’t what we truly wanted but what we needed for the purposes of the budget,” began Stroy. “After seeking the input of teachers, it was noted that they really wanted a lower-class size. As an administration, we wanted to figure out how to make that happen. We want to support them in whatever way we can to allow them to be successful which in turn leads to student success.”

Stroy shared that the district’s commitment to accommodate the changes as requested caused some manageable shifting with the adoption of the new academic calendar and the built-in days along with the lower-class sizes. “I believe we can assist in our teachers not only being happy, but being healthy physically and mentality as well,” she stated.

She also shared that the district recommended no change to the staffing allocation for the pre-kindergarten to Fourth-grade levels, which currently sits at 24:1 and Fifth grade which is 27:1. The middle and high school has a recommended adjustment to decrease class sizes from a 33:1 to a 28:1 ratio in its academic core content areas. Chief Stroy shared that the district plans to maintain the 33:1 ratio for the elective or enrichment areas, unless it is not allowable per the grant contract. There were no recommended changes to the professional and support staff allocation.

The Board approved the staffing allocations in the final April meeting of the trustees.

While the recent staffing overview provided an assessment of the district’s staffing needs in comparison to our current and projected enrollment, it also unveiled an opportunity for the district to recreate the profile for the ideal educator and leader for this new system.

Following the guidelines of the social distancing and related ordinances from the county and state agencies, DeSoto ISD is still focused on ensuring that it has a highly-qualified, knowledgeable and passionate teacher leading every classroom in its system by seeking professionals through participating in a series of virtual job fairs sponsored by colleges, universities, and other reputable teacher training programs. 

Individuals interested in joining the DeSoto ISD staff can visit