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Dos and Don'ts: Stipends

February 20, 2020 • Patti Ellis

Dos and Don’ts: Stipends

Stipends are a great way to compensate employees for taking on additional duties or for possessing high-need credentials, but the administration of stipends can become burdensome.

Below are some quick tips on what to do and what not to do to ensure the administration of your stipend program runs as smoothly as possible.

Do:

  • Use market data to set competitive stipend amounts
  • Offer teacher shortage area stipends based on recruitment efforts and high needs areas
  • Pay a single amount that accounts for the value of the duty and the time required
  • Pay stipends equitably based on work performed
  • Regularly (every 3-4 years) review stipend offerings and markets to adjust

Don’t:

  • Pay for certifications, licenses, or credentials that are required to perform the job (including master’s degrees for non-educator roles such as counselors, diagnosticians, and principals)
  • Pay extra days
    • The amount of extra days paid rarely accurately reflects actual time performing the duty, often results in inequitable pay among staff performing the same duty, and disconnects the district’s pay from the market.
  • Differentiate stipends as “boys” or “girls”
  • Pay stipends for work that is directly related to the individual’s job
    • Refine job descriptions and expectations, as needed, to accommodate adjustments to specific duties newly added or absorbed into specific roles.
    • This may mean a one-time increase to pay, depending on the situation, but does not need to be paid as a stipend.
  • Pay flat-rate stipends to nonexempt staff
    • Instead, pay stipends at a per hour rate of at least minimum wage, based on actual hours worked and accurate time records. This alleviates risk in complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and ensures nonexempt workers will be appropriately compensated for overtime worked.
  • Bundle coaching stipends
    • Instead, pay a separate stipend for each individual coaching assignment. This helps avoid inequitable pay for varying assignments among staff and align coaching pay to market.

Setting stipends straight

If your district currently pays stipends in a way described in the “don’t” category, fear not. Districts can restructure stipend payment procedures to align with better practices. Below are a few strategies to accomplish this:

  • Use market data with at least four peer districts to determine new stipend rates.
  • For employees currently receiving a stipend that is being eliminated in the future (e.g., the district will no longer pay master’s degrees for principals), the prior stipend can be incorporated into the employee’s pay in the transition year and then discontinued as a stipend going forward.
  • If the district sets market-based stipend values that are less than what some current employees receive for that extra duty, choose to grandfather pay for those employees, only paying the new value to those who newly accept the extra duty. The old values will be eliminated through attrition.
  • If you do choose to continue paying for extra days, transition to paying a flat daily rate rather than the individual’s personal daily rate.

For market information on stipends, refer to TASB HR Services Extra-Duty Survey on DataCentral.


Patti Ellis is an associate consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Patti an email at patti.ellis@tasb.org.


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Tagged: Compensation, FLSA, Nonexempt, "Teacher stipends"