Getting the most out of stipends

by Ann Patton

Mention the topic of stipends in public schools and you may hear sighs of frustration from HR administrators, as well as lots of questions. Which employees are eligible for stipends? How much money should be dedicated to an extracurricular stipend? Can the district give bonuses when the team performs particularly well? Texas public schools that use stipends to pay employees, usually teachers, to compensate for a variety of factors need to consider common and best practices for payment.

Extracurricular duties

Stipends are often used to compensate for duties performed that are not related to their primary job, such as time spent before and after school and for days worked outside of their normal duty schedule. Extracurricular stipends are paid for coaching athletics, including football, baseball, and basketball, and for directing performing arts, (e.g., band, orchestra, drama). Other common stipends include cheerleading, drill team, club sponsors, and UIL coaches.

Stipend pay practices vary among districts. According to the 2016–2017 TASB HR Services Extra-Duty Stipend Survey, more than half (56 percent) of reporting districts pay additional days, either at the employee’s daily rate or a standard daily rate, plus a stipend. The remaining 44 percent pay a stipend exclusively.

Although the length of the sports season is the same, there is no consistency among districts who pay additional days in how many days are paid. Paying additional days causes inequity in how much is paid to each coach. For example, if two assistant coaches are paid five days and a $2,000 stipend and they have been coaching the same number of years, one may be paid considerably more than the other because he has more years of teaching experience. That person already is paid more for his teaching assignment than the less-experienced teacher, but paying additional days creates a disparity in pay for the extra duty assignment.
Paying a single stipend with no days is a more equitable method. This ensures that coaches are compensated equally for the same work.

Certifications and degrees

According to the 2016–2017 TASB Salary Survey, 70 percent of districts pay teachers a stipend for having a master’s degree. Also, the number of districts paying more or paying exclusively for teachers who have a master’s degree in the subject or content area in which they teach is increasing. Research shows that teachers who have completed graduate degrees are not significantly more effective than those with bachelor’s degrees. However, some studies have found teachers with advanced degrees in their subject or content area have a greater impact on student growth, particularly in the areas of math and science.

Districts also commonly pay stipends for hard-to-find specialties, including certified math, science, bilingual, and foreign language teachers. This allows districts, who pay using a teacher pay schedule that only recognizes experience, to provide additional compensation to teachers with specialized certifications.

Leadership

These stipends recognize additional leadership roles such as department chairs, lead counselor, lead diagnostician, and possibly even coordinators. Before awarding these stipends, consider caseloads and number of employees on their team.

A focus on market

Districts that pay counselors, diagnosticians, and other professionals on the teacher pay schedule use stipends to pay additional money to stay competitive. When these positions with higher level certifications and licenses are paid on the teacher scale, additional pay is necessary to attract and keep talent, because the market usually is higher for these positions. Moving these jobs to a competitively priced pay range should eliminate the need for this type of stipend.

School districts typically select a job market for comparison based on a variety of factors. The list should include districts that compete for the same qualified applicants. This would include districts that are geographically close, have similar programs (athletics, academic, or fine arts), and those with whom the district competes in various sports and other activities.

Stipend market value should be calculated using the value of the days (for districts that pay days) plus the value of the stipends to calculate a total value for each extracurricular duty. This calculates a total value for each assignment, which ensures a valid comparison.

Nonexempt employees

Another frequent question involves paying stipends to clerical, paraprofessional, and auxiliary employees. Nonexempt employees are entitled to premium pay (overtime) or compensatory time paid at time-and-a-half for every hour they work more than 40 in a seven-consecutive-day workweek. This includes all hours worked performing extracurricular activities.

Under Department of Labor regulations, districts are not allowed to pay a stipend instead of overtime. If a stipend is paid, it must be included in the regular rate of pay when calculating overtime. Guidance on how to correctly calculate overtime for nonexempt employees is in The Administrators Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act, published by TASB HR Services. 

Also, any stipends paid to nonexempt workers for certifications, additional assignments, lead worker, or other duties must be included in the regular rate of pay. It is much easier to comply with federal law, if extracurricular activities and additional pay for certifications to nonexempt workers are paid on an hourly rate basis.

Other stipends

The use of stipends is highly effective for compensating for extracurricular duties, additional certifications, and leadership roles. However, districts are known to pay stipends for a variety of reasons that should be considered part of the employee’s primary job. This includes stipends for responsibilities such as:
  • Walking the police dog
  • Operating the press box elevator
  • Completing paperwork
  • Attending board meetings
  • Putting letters on the school marquee
These stipends should be eliminated or included in annual pay.

Conducting a comprehensive audit of all stipends paid will reveal which are appropriate and which should be eliminated. Maintaining a simple and market-based stipend schedule can help districts keep competitive and pay in fair and compliant ways for extracurricular duty assignments. 

 

Superintendent pay increases steady in 2017–2018

by Troy Bryant

According to preliminary results of the annual TASB/TASA Superintendent Salary Survey, nearly two-thirds of Texas districts provided a base salary increase to their continuing superintendent. The average pay increase in 2017‒2018 for continuing superintendents was 2.9 percent.

Down from a 3.2 percent average increase in 2016‒2017, pay raises have hovered at 3 percent for the past five years. 

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Examining superintendent pay increases in relation to the Texas Education Agency (TEA)-defined district community types, superintendents in non-metropolitan fast-growing districts experienced the highest average increase (3.9 percent). Superintendents in rural districts, which comprise 40 percent of survey respondents, received a 2.6 percent average pay raise. Major urban districts gave their superintendents a 1.3 percent average pay increase.

Salaries by enrollment size, community type

The average superintendent salary in Texas for 2017‒2018 is $145,940. There has been a steady increase in base salaries, rising 2.7 percent in 2017‒2018 and 1.9 percent in 2016‒2017. Half of reported superintendent salaries in Texas are less than $125,000 (median).

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In districts with fewer than 500 students, the average superintendent salary is $96,119, up from $94,920 last year. These districts account for one-quarter of survey participants. In the largest Texas districts—those with more than 50,000 students—average base pay is $320,532, up from $308,184, a 4 percent increase.     
 
Analyzing superintendent salaries by community type, average base pay in rural districts is $101,227, up from $99,164 last year. TEA classifies 459 of some 1,000 public school districts in Texas as rural. Superintendent salaries average $314,366 in major urban districts.

Superintendent experience

In Texas, superintendents have held the position in their current district for an average of four years and have seven total years of experience as a superintendent in any district, according to the survey. Thirteen percent of districts hired a new superintendent this year.

Incentive pay drops

Performance and retention bonuses for Texas superintendents decreased to an average of $8,232, down from $9,722 in last year’s survey. Only 5 percent of respondents received a bonus or incentive.

In addition to incentive pay, the survey collects data on transportation and housing allowances, health insurance benefits, retirement benefits, and other compensation to form a picture of total compensation. In Texas, a superintendent’s base salary makes up 95 percent of total compensation.

Survey participation

For 2017‒2018, 748 Texas school districts participated in the survey, representing 73 percent of districts statewide. Small districts—those with fewer than 1,000 students—account for 45 percent of participants. Salaries in districts reporting an interim or part-time superintendent were not included in the analysis. Survey data is effective as of July 2017.

TASB HR Services members can access 2017‒2018 Superintendent Salary Survey data in DataCentral. The 2017‒2018 Superintendent Compensation in Texas Public Schools report (PDF) will be available in myTASB to HR Services members in late November. Nonmembers will be able to purchase it in the TASB Store.
 

3 steps to standardize duty schedules

by Tracy Morris
 
Maintaining a multitude of work calendars can be a time-consuming process for human resources and payroll and result in employees being confused about their work start and stop dates.
 
When districts have employees within a single job group on different annual work schedules, confusion and inefficiencies can arise. Employees can misinterpret the schedule—they show up a day too early, don’t show up when you expect them, and they have difficulty understanding their pay.
 
It’s common to find districts that have 20 or more duty schedules across all jobs. While there may be a legitimate reason for maintaining a number of duty calendars, many of the individual calendars have very few incumbents on those schedules. Additionally, it’s not uncommon to see duty schedules that differ from one another by only one day.
 
Districts can improve management efficiency and reduce employee confusion by limiting the number of duty calendars. Here are some best practices to follow to reduce the number of different duty calendars:
 
1. Consider the business needs of the district.
As student schedules change, be sure to consider whether you still need bus drivers, custodians, or cafeteria workers for the same number of days as you previously did. If you don’t, change the schedule. While a reduced student calendar may free up work days for professional development, weigh how many days are reasonable and cost-effective to include in the duty calendars. Review calendars with few incumbents to determine the specific service provision needs and consolidate calendars where appropriate.
 
2. Maintain annualized salaries for affected employees.
If consolidating calendars results in a reduction in pay for the employees, consider maintaining the annualized salaries at the current rate for the affected employees. This means their hourly or daily rate should increase to keep the employee earning no less than they previously were on the former duty schedule.
 
3. Match the market.
Just as it’s important to compete with the market for pay, you can use the market to help guide duty calendars. Wide variances in days for positions from the market can affect market competitiveness. Find out what days your peers are staffing for each position and consider doing the same, as long as it continues to meet the business needs of the district.
 
 

HR Extras

Patrick releases more interim charges

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick posted another batch of interim charges to Senate committees to look into ahead of the next legislative session.
 
Below are the topics Patrick listed that impact public schools and teachers.

Senate Education Committee

Teacher Compensation: Study current local, state, and/or national compensation strategies for classroom teachers and make recommendations to elevate the teaching profession as well as comprehensive policies to attract, retain, and reward teachers.
 
Classroom Conduct and Teacher Support: Examine current student discipline mandates in code, study best practice models to reduce classroom discipline issues, and provide direct support for students and classroom teachers.

House Higher Education Committee

Review current data available to the public about Educator Preparation Programs (EPP) and make recommendations to ensure the data is transparent, user-friendly, and actionable. Review the current EPP accountability system and recommend any new indicators or changes, including evaluating the ability of programs to meet the workforce needs of school districts by preparing teachers for high-needs areas.

Determine ways to measure the effectiveness of teachers prepared by individual programs. For traditional EPPs, make recommendations on how to more fully involve boards of regents in an effort to elevate the importance of teacher preparation within our state institutions. Examine current joint partnerships between EPPs and public schools to meet regional workforce needs, and make recommendations on how to scale these partnerships. 
 
Read the House charges released in October.
Read the Senate charges released in October.
 

STEM jobs among the fastest growing in America

Employment projection data released by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights the fastest-growing jobs in the United States. The data shows jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are as abundant as ever.
 
Mathematicians, statisticians, software developers, information security analysts, and technicians are all on the rise, with a projection of 28 percent growth or higher between 2016–2026.
 
Conversely, some of the jobs decreasing in demand are those being replaced by robots. Parking enforcement workers, word processors, typists, computer and telephone operators, and data entry keyers are all projected to decrease by 21 percent or more during the next 10 years.
 
To view the data in detail, refer to the following article from Bloomberg.
 
 

Inside HR Services

Changes to HR Exchange publishing dates for December

Because of website maintenance and holiday schedules, we will publish only one issue of the HR Exchange in December and one on the third week of January. We will resume the regular schedule in February. We want to thank our readers for their continued support and patience as we look forward to a great new year.

Extra-duty stipend survey launched

The 2017–2018 Stipend Survey launched October 24. Be sure to take part so your district can create custom stipend comparison reports in DataCentral using your own data. This annual survey covers more than 70 common extra-duty assignments in athletics, performing arts, and academics. November 17 is the deadline to submit your data.