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Compensation, Benefits & Pensions2021-11-10T21:51:06+00:00

Compensation, Benefits & Pensions

By far the largest category of spending in American public school districts is employee salaries and benefits. Nationally, for every $10,000 that districts spend, about $8,000 goes toward staffing costs.

At the Edunomics Lab, we analyze how districts structure their compensation packages to attract and retain high-quality educators. Through that lens, we consider the full compensation package, including base teacher salaries plus any stipends or incentives, as well as benefits including retirement (pensions) and health care.

Our analyses focus on the distribution of salaries versus benefits, whether staffing dollars are spent equitably, and how compensation can be used to address other important goals, such as teacher quality and diversity. These include districts that give bonuses to effective teachers who take on more students and raise pay for early-career teachers as a way to strengthen the teaching force and reduce runaway pension costs.

Relevant Resources

Teacher Dissatisfaction May Be High, But So Are Retention Rates

Across Washington state, public schools retained a higher percentage of teachers last year than they do in normal years. That's important information for school district leaders as they decide how to spend the windfall of federal relief funds headed their way.

A free college plan that pays for itself

In this op ed published by The Hill, Marguerite Roza proposes a way for the federal government to pay for college without boosting federal debt or burdening taxpayers.

The Big Bet on Adding Staff to Improve Schools Is Breaking the Bank

By going all-in on staffing, we’ve crowded out other potential investments­ that can positively impact student learning. In this paper, Marguerite Roza writes that competing strategies should be viewed through the lens of which can do the most for students with the limited dollars at hand.

A Way to Get School Finances Back Under Control

This commentary lays out why it may be time for states to establish agencies modeled on the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) to certify school district obligations before they take effect and push districts into financial crisis.

The Equity Problem in Teacher Pensions

This brief shows how high-minority schools receive fewer dollars in pension wealth than low-minority schools within the same district, and makes the case for pension dollars to be more transparent and included in discussions around K-12 spending equity.

How Late-Career Raises Drive Teacher-Pension Debt

In this paper we model the impacts of late-term raises on teacher pension obligations showing that on average each dollar raise triggers $10 to $16 in new taxpayer obligations and provide suggestions to mitigate such impacts while improving incentives for early and mid career teachers.

The SEA of the Future: Prioritizing Productivity

In this volume of The SEA of the Future, Marguerite Roza co-authored two essays examining how state leaders, challenged with having to make decisions on how to use limited resources, are faced with an uneasy zero-sum game: every dollar they put into one program is a dollar not spent in another.