Attracting and retaining teachers through creative, free perks

By Zach DiSchiano

In the midst of a legislative session in which school funding may be further reduced, districts are tasked with creating new ways to offer more benefits with fewer resources.

As hiring season approaches and the talent pool continues to shrink, each district must examine methods to present itself as a more attractive destination for new teachers to seek employment. There are a few different ways to do this, from highlighting district culture to emphasizing the teacher career pathway plans in place. But there’s one word on everyone’s mind these days that can separate a good workplace from a great one: benefits.

Employees want to know what a district can offer them in addition to a great career path and a friendly staff. Work-life balance is important, and offering helpful perks can prove a district’s commitment to its employees’ well-being.

The challenge is in figuring out what your district can offer without incurring additional costs. Fortunately, we can look to other districts and even companies in the private sector to generate some ideas.

North East ISD

North East ISD partnered with several local businesses to provide discounts for their employees. They offer special coupons to grocery stores, restaurants, and even department stores like J. Crew.

They also leveraged their location in San Antonio and worked out deals with Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Schlitterbahn Waterparks, and Sea World to get discounted tickets for district staff.

These benefits are relatively easy to acquire. Many local businesses are looking for ways to give back to the community, and the larger corporations benefit from charitable giving through tax breaks and good PR. It could be as easy as picking up the phone or emailing their promotions department.

Eanes ISD

Eanes ISD offers some great benefits for teachers with kids. The Eanes After School Youth (EASY) Care program provides after school child care through their Community Education Department. The EASY CARE program, staffed by EISD employees, provides a high-quality, curriculum-based childcare and enrichment program for K-5 students onsite at all six elementary school campuses. Childcare is from school dismissal to 6pm.

EISD also provides tuition-free attendance for employee’s children who live outside the district boundaries. Additionally, they offer affordable pre-school child care at the Child Development Center.

McKinney ISD

At the McKinney ISD Website, there’s a full list of perks for employees featuring more than 100 discounted services, ranging from home security systems to wireless services and even chiropractic care.

Everyone enjoys a free meal, and although McKinney ISD can’t broker that impressive of a deal, they were able to secure sizeable discounts to multiple local and national chain restaurants, like Jimmy John’s, Chicken Express, Texas Roadhouse, and Chick-Fil-A.

Like North East ISD, McKinney takes advantage of its location and offers marked-down tickets to Texas Rangers baseball games and other local entertainment venues.

Common corporate perks

There are other benefits districts can offer that haven’t quite found their way into mainstream public education use. Knowing the importance of employee wellness, some companies offer on-site yoga classes where they invite a teacher to come to their office and teach a session. The employees still pay for the service, but the convenience of having a fitness instructor come to them instead of the other way around is largely beneficial and saves precious time. Districts could offer the same thing, using the gymnasium or even a vacant classroom to host a fitness session.

Another popular perk in the corporate world is having a dry cleaning delivery service. Employees drop off their dry cleaning at a central location and the service collects and returns all orders. Again, the cost falls on the employees, but the convenience makes it worthwhile. The district is saving them more time by orchestrating the service. The only investment would be finding a closet or storage area that is easily accessible.

Many companies provide employees access to a group insurance program, such as car, home, and life insurance, with special low rates. The company may offer employees the option to pay premiums through payroll deduction.

Leveraging benefits already in place

One benefit all districts can emphasize is loan forgiveness. Student debt weighs heavy on a millennial’s mind and the teaching profession is the best in the world at solving that problem. Districts can tell prospective employees about loan forgiveness programs and explain eligibility requirements. If positioned the right way, this may be a strategy to help retain those teachers in your district for an extended time.

Benefits are a key component when teachers are deciding where they want to work. Offering creative perks that make their lives easier or more frugal can sway their decision to come on board and stay in your favor. Talk to local businesses about what they are willing to offer America’s most underappreciated employees, and they are sure to find some room in the budget to help out in some way.  

2016–17 Extra-Duty Stipend survey results released

by Troy Bryant

Our 2016–17 Extra-Duty Stipend survey found 32 percent of responding districts pay a stipend to their high school head football coaches. Across the state, high school head football coaches in Texas receive an median annual stipend of $7,500, a decrease of approximately $100 from last year. Stipends for football coaches can vary significantly based on the size of the school. Head coaches in Class 1A schools receive $3,500, while Class 6A coaches are paid $17,516 for the duty.

In addition to a stipend, just over half of these districts (51 percent) pay extra days to high school head football coaches. Districts provide a median of 20 extra days.

The annual survey collects stipend counts, amounts, and number of extra-duty days, as well as information on how districts pay for extracurricular duties. Additional data covering salaries for head football coaches can be found in the Other School Employee salary reports in DataCentral.

On course with last year’s results, most districts (86 percent) assign and pay athletic stipends for each sport coached. Other districts (14 percent) pay a single stipend to compensate a coach for managing multiple athletic assignments. For purposes of the survey, districts paying a single stipend to a coach for multiple sports were asked to divide the amount to identify pay by sport.

Payment method

Regarding the payment method for extracurricular duties, 44 percent of respondents reported they pay a flat stipend amount only to cover the value of the duty and time. Last year, 37 percent of respondents paid a flat stipend amount with no days.

Other respondents indicated they pay a stipend plus extra days, typically at the employee’s daily rate. Less than 10 percent of districts pay a standard flat rate, determined by the district, or use a combination of standard and daily rates.

Other assignments

The 2016–17 Extra-Duty Stipend Survey includes more than 75 extra-duty assignments, covering benchmark athletic, academic, and performing arts stipends in Texas schools. New to the survey are these extra-duty assignments:
  • High School Powerlifting Assistant Coach
  • High School Tennis Assistant Coach
  • Middle School Assistant Band Director
  • Elementary School UIL Campus Coordinator
  • Elementary School UIL Subject-Area Coach
  • National Junior Honor Society Advisor
For 2016‒17, 432 Texas public school districts, representing 42 percent of districts statewide, are included in the survey data. For complete data on all stipend assignments in the survey, members can access DataCentral. Data can be used to identify general market trends for local planning purposes, but unique variables may affect individual stipend payments in a district.


The new American Dream and your workforce

by Chau Tran

Remember when the great American Dream was to find a good place to work for 40 years, get married, buy a house, and have 2.3 children?

If that’s not your version of the American Dream, you’re likely a millennial. If that’s the American Dream you’re familiar with, you may be wondering what happened to that dream and why millennials don’t want it.

Freedom and mobility

As society changes and grows with advances in medicine, technology, interpersonal communications, and even food, it’s inevitable that the needs and wants of society will follow suit, evolving to either accept these changes, fight them, or improve them further. Ultimately, the phenomena of life and time has changed reality; thus, changing the American Dream forever.

An essential part of the traditional American Dream was to buy your own house, but owning a home is no longer a part of the American dream. In 2014, a survey by the MacArthur Foundation revealed nearly two-thirds of Americans believe they will be less likely to build wealth by buying a home, which was not the case 20 or 30 years ago.

The survey also found the majority of respondents in the last three years would rather rent than buy a home. More than half of the respondents said they had to work overtime or another job, cut back on essential costs like health care, or even get deeper into credit card debt just to afford their housing payments.

The concept of being burdened by a mortgage isn’t attractive to most Americans anymore, especially millennials. Because millennials are slowly, but surely, becoming a bigger segment of the workforce, the American Dream has shifted to reflect their ideals and their goals. This generation has different desires, which affects how they live and work.

Millennials want to rent apartments in urban areas instead of buying homes in the suburbs. Owning a home is typically more expensive than renting because of maintenance costs and large down payments required for home loans. They don’t want to worry about making mortgage payments, fixing broken appliances, or paying homeowner association fees. Millennials would rather pay off their student loan debt than take on the financial obligations of buying and owning a home. Instead, millennials use the money they save by renting on travel and other types of intellectual enrichment. They want to immerse themselves in the experiences life has to offer, instead of working just to pay the bills.

Millennials, the largest part of our workforce, find freedom and mobility much more desirable than being tied to a single location with the daunting financial commitment of a 30-year mortgage. As of April 2016, the 75.4 million millennials surpassed the 74.9 million Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation.

Millennial tendencies

Spawned by millennials, the new American Dream has already affected employers across the country. Because millennials are not tied down to just one place, and in light of their desire to travel, they move across the country from one job to the next. Although employers cannot change this new American Dream, they can still make positive shifts that will influence the generation that has transformed the American Dream by playing to their strengths and desires and keep their millennial employees from moving on to another job.

Professional services firm Deloitte has conducted two surveys on millennials in the workplace over the last two years. Some of the findings revealed two-thirds of millennials express a desire to leave their current jobs/organizations by the year 2020, which is only three years away. Forty-four percent of the millennials surveyed said, if given the choice, they would leave their current jobs within the next two years.

In the U.S., 64 percent of millennials surveyed expected to leave their jobs within the next five years. The Deloitte 2016 survey reports that millennials express little loyalty to their employers, strong unchanging values that steer their career decisions even as they progress through their profession, prefer more flexibility in their work, and they desire for business to change its focus from profits to people and purpose.

The surveys also revealed a slight decrease in millennials who were likely to leave their jobs within the next two years—now 38 percent (which is still high globally). They also reinforced the finding that millennials prefer flexibility in their work and remain focused on people and purpose.

Millennials in the workplace

At the end of the day, millennials want to make an impact on society and the world. The Deloitte Millennial Surveys found millennials feel they will be most able to make said impact in and through the workplace, and opportunities to be involved in good causes at the local level provided by employers give them a greater sense of influencing change. Survey findings suggest those who feel a sense of purpose within their organization show a greater level of loyalty to their employers.

The millennial’s new American Dream is to live a flexible lifestyle where they can travel, learn, grow, and make a positive impact on the world. Millennials, in general, don’t care as much about making more money to buy a home and settle down as they do about creating positive change in the world. They only want to make enough money to live a meaningful and intellectually enriched life.

Millennials in public schools

Public school districts can use this information to strengthen their relationships with millennial employees and support retention by connecting the mission of public education to millennials’ desire to focus on people and purpose. Otherwise, districts risk losing a large, continuously growing portion of their workforce.

Districts can use this strategy in recruiting, as well. Provide millennial candidates with opportunities to effect positive change in public education by relating to their core values and selling the benefits of a teaching career. Education is a key platform for difference-makers who want to make a positive impact on society—a common goal for the majority of the millennial generation.

HR Extras

Proposed changes for TRS-ActiveCare districts

Senate Bill 1940 and House Bill 2974, both passed by the 84th Legislature, established the Joint Interim Committee to study Teacher Retirement System (TRS) health benefit plans. The committee was tasked with coming up with a plan to find a viable solution to their funding problems by January 15, 2017.

The committee came about because of the dramatic increase in health care costs and the financial burden it placed on employees, as well as the financial soundness of the plan as health care costs have increased but funding remained static. In districts paying only the required minimum contribution, the employee’s share of the premium has more than doubled over time while funding formulas have remained the same since 2001.

The committee released its proposed changes back in November, and the changes have been incorporated into Senate Bill 789, filed in February by the committee’s co-chair, Senator Joan Huffman. Changes outlined in the bill include:
  • Limiting TRS-ActiveCare membership to districts with 1,000 or fewer employees
  • Limiting available plan options to a high-deductible plan and a health savings account program
  • One single opt-out provision, effective September 1, 2018, for districts with fewer than 1,000 employees with no ability to opt back in at a later time
  • School districts with more than 1,000 employees would be excluded from coverage effective September 1, 2018, and would be responsible for their own health care coverage
  • Funding for the plan would maintain the $75 per month employee from the state and the minimum of $150 per month per employee from the district

TASB Risk Management Fund Members’ Conference coming soon

The TASB Risk Management Fund will host MemCon17 April 23-25 at the Hyatt Regency Austin. Several sessions will focus on issues relevant to HR staff, including workers’ compensation leave and administration, Personally Identifiable Information, modified duty, and more. For a full list of sessions and descriptions, view the Session Descriptions on the MemCon17 Website. This conference is a benefit that is included at no cost to members of any TASB Risk Management Fund program. 

Members of the HR Services staff will have a booth set up at the conference, so please come by and visit if you have any questions about our services or simply want to say hi.

For more information and to register, click here


Inside HR Services

Use a peer review to improve your HR organization and operations

One of the consulting services we provide to our members is an HR department review conducted by a team of experienced human resource professionals. This external review can provide district leaders with benchmarking information, objective insights, and practical suggestions to make HR operations more strategic and efficient. Each review is uniquely planned and customized to meet the needs of the district. An HR review can be broad or narrow in scope and can focus on compliance or strategic issues or both. A list of services provided during our peer review process is available on our website or by calling us at 800.580.7782.

School district HR metrics available in DataCentral

Get essential HR data on common school district policies and practices in DataCentral. Join hundreds of school districts that have already participated. Most surveys take 5 minutes or less to complete. Find these HR Surveys in DataCentral:

  • Administrator & Professional Support Contracts 
  • CTE Pay Rates 
  • Health Insurance Premiums 
  • HR Department Responsibilities 
  • Leave Reimbursement
  • Local Leave Benefits 
  • Sick Leave Banks & Pools
  • Superintendent Contracts 
  • Supplemental Benefits
  • Supplemental Pay Rates
  • Teacher Contracts
  • Teacher Professional Development
  • Teacher Substitutes