Vacancies in Minneapolis Public Schools are more likely to impact students receiving special education students, as well as students attending schools where students are more likely to be BIPOC and qualify for free and reduced price meals. This is a pattern that plays out across schools in the United States. And research shows that these vacancies, and the underlying turnover that causes them, have a negative impact on students in academic and non-academic ways.
Following up on an analysis from last fall, Minneapolis Schools Voices created a unique dataset from the district’s online job postings as of May 31. The 511 vacant positions listed on the district’s website at the time included openings in a range of administrative and support roles within schools and the district’s central office. Narrowing the listing to just those positions in schools that are student-facing, we found 407 total openings.
There are currently 63 openings in the district for licensed teachers, which includes 27 positions that are part of the district’s new intervention triads and 18 openings for special education teachers. The district initially announced there would be 133 intervention triad teacher positions next school year, meaning 20% remain vacant. The majority of the vacant intervention teacher positions are in the district’s citywide programs, including magnet schools.
There are 344 vacancies for paraprofessionals, including 201 vacancies for Associate Educators as part of the intervention triads. There were originally openings for 266 Associate Educators as part of the triads, meaning three quarters of the new positions are vacant. Of the remaining vacancies for paraprofessionals, there are 83 vacancies for Special Education Assistants. Over a third of the openings for Special Education Assistants are in the district’s programs for students with autism. There are five openings for Special Education Assistants to work as one to one aides for students with autism.
Table 1: Teacher and Paraprofessional Job Openings in Minneapolis Public Schools
Most of the open positions are in district schools that offer programming to students citywide, as shown in Figure 1. This category includes the magnet programs offered to students in grades K-8, as well as other citywide programs, like Anishinabe Academy and Heritage Academy. Nearly three quarters of students who attend citywide programs qualify for free or reduced price lunch, compared to 57% of students districtwide. The district has not released data on the race and ethnicity of students attending its schools this year. However, data from last year indicates students at citywide program schools are also more likely to be students of color or American Indian, compared to the district average.
Figure 1: Number of Vacancies by High School Zone
Citywide programs also enroll more students than any of the community school pathways for the district’s seven traditional high schools. This explains part of why vacancies are more prevalent. But the number of vacancies per student in each high school pathway is not consistent across the district. Rather there is a strong correlation between vacancies and the proportion of students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Relationship Between Vacancies per Student and Percent of Students Qualifying for Free and Reduced Price Meals
Some principals expressed concern when the intervention triads were announced that teachers and paraprofessionals would view the intervention positions as preferable to existing positions within the district. They thought it was possible educators would leave classroom positions in favor of intervention positions. But that does not seem to have happened. There are currently only eighteen classroom teacher openings, excluding intervention and special education positions, compared to nearly 100 open positions for teachers in August 2022. It’s not clear from the available data whether this will change before the school year starts in September.
In August 2022, there were 56 openings for Special Education Assistants, significantly fewer than the 83 positions currently open for next school year. There are 60 openings for Associate Educators next year, not including the intervention triad positions, which is also higher than the 13 openings for Associate Educators in August of 2022.