Recruitment & Retention

Schools Warned to Expect Wage Pressures for the Foreseeable Future

By Mark Lieberman — June 15, 2022 1 min read
Conceptual image of salary.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

School districts should plan to keep raising wages to stay competitive in the persistently volatile labor market, even as pressures on spending pile up, a bulletin from a prominent credit rating agency warned Wednesday.

The K-12 sector overall has a healthy credit rating, but some districts are in a stronger position than others, the report from Fitch Ratings says. Districts with low credit ratings may find it difficult to meaningfully expand compensation for staff without further denting their credit status.

Chief financial officers and other business administrators in districts keep a close eye on credit agencies, whose ratings influence their capacity to generate bond revenue, place bids for strong contractors, and advocate for increased state aid.

The Fitch credit agency’s take is the latest signal to school districts that the acute staffing challenges that defined the last school year are not likely to resolve themselves quickly. Districts nationwide are struggling to find enough support staff like bus drivers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, and nurses, as well as teachers in some cases.

In recent months, paraprofessionals in Denver and Nashville; school social workers and therapists in New Mexico; school nurses in Fort Worth, Texas, and school bus drivers in Louisiana, Florida, and New York have publicly rallied or refused to work to advocate for pay increases. Teachers’ strikes agitating for better pay have jolted districts this year in Brookline, Mass., Minneapolis, Oakland, Calif., Proviso, Ill., and Sacramento, Calif..

Raising wages is the most obvious tactic to entice workers. But, as the Fitch item and Education Week’s reporting highlight, private employers often have far more capacity than school districts and other public employers to offer robust hourly wages. Many school districts are seeing workers retire or quit for jobs with companies like Amazon and Uber or local employers with more competitive rates.

Working conditions in schools also play a role in these challenges. Many school employees say they feel overworked and underappreciated, burdened with high expectations from parents and political controversies that distract from the educational mission. For more on these issues and potential solutions, check out Education Week’s new special report, “Why Staffing Schools is Harder Than Ever.”

Events

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Creating Confident Readers: Why Differentiated Instruction is Equitable Instruction
Join us as we break down how differentiated instruction can advance your school’s literacy and equity goals.
Content provided by Lexia Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Recruitment & Retention Signing Ceremonies Honor Students Who Want to Be Teachers
In a growing number of schools across the country, student-athletes aren't the only ones in the spotlight. Future teachers are, too.
7 min read
The advisers of Baldwin County High School’s chapter of Future Teachers of Alabama pose with the seniors who are committed to a career in education in April 2024. From left to right, they are: Chantelle McPherson, Diona Davis, Molly Caruthers, Jameia Brooks, Whitney Jernigan, Derriana Bishop, Vickie Locke, and Misty Byrd.
The advisers of Baldwin County High School’s chapter of Future Teachers of Alabama pose with seniors who are committed to a career in education in April 2024. From left to right: Chantelle McPherson, Diona Davis, Molly Caruthers, Jameia Brooks, Whitney Jernigan, Derriana Bishop, Vickie Locke, and Misty Byrd.
Courtesy of Baldwin County High School
Recruitment & Retention Why Your Next Teacher Job Fair Probably Won't Be Virtual
Post-pandemic, K-12 job fairs have largely pivoted to in-person events. But virtual fairs still have a place.
4 min read
Facility and prospective applicants gather at William Penn School District's teachers job fair in Lansdowne, Pa., Wednesday, May 3, 2023. As schools across the country struggle to find teachers to hire, more governors are pushing for pay increases and bonuses for the beleaguered profession.
Facility and prospective applicants gather at William Penn School District's in-person teachers job fair in Lansdowne, Pa., Wednesday, May 3, 2023.
Matt Rourke/AP
Recruitment & Retention How Effective Mentors Strengthen Teacher Recruitment and Retention
Rudy Ruiz, founder of the Edifying Teachers network, shares advice on what quality mentorship entails for teachers of color.
3 min read
A teacher helps students during a coding lesson at Sutton Middle School in Atlanta on Feb. 12, 2020.
A teacher helps students during a coding lesson at Sutton Middle School in Atlanta on Feb. 12, 2020.
Allison Shelley/EDUimages
Recruitment & Retention What the Research Says Some Positive Signs for the Teacher Pipeline, But It's Not All Good. What 3 Studies Say
Teacher-prep enrollment is stabilizing, but school-level turnover is still high.
8 min read
A classroom at Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne, Pa., sits empty on May 3, 2023. Teachers in the state left their jobs at an accelerating rate, according to an analysis that found attrition in Pennsylvania doubled in the 2022-23 school year. New studies paint a complex picture of the national pipeline.
A classroom at Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne, Pa., sits empty on May 3, 2023. Teachers in the state left their jobs at an accelerating rate, according to an analysis that found attrition in Pennsylvania doubled in the 2022-23 school year. New studies paint a complex picture of the national pipeline.
Matt Rourke/AP