School Business Affairs November 2020

28 NOVEMBER 2020 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS FOCUS ON WELLNESS Financial Wellness—Keys to Retaining Employees Districts can help their employees achieve the long-term financial goals that lead to financial wellness—and keep them in the profession. By Robert C. Curtis E ducation is a calling, and educators cite the non-tangible rewards of the job as the reason they chose the profession: from making a posi- tive difference in children’s lives and preparing them for the future, to helping shape tomorrow’s citizens and leaders. Educators’ job compensation often is not commen- surate with the investment they made to get there. In 63% of the public school districts nationwide, an aver- age teacher’s starting salary was less than $40,000 for the 2017–2018 school year, according to a 2019 NEA survey. In comparison, the total cost of undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board for a 2017 four-year public university graduate averaged $102,835, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (2019). While the cost of a college education continues to rise, educators’ salaries are falling further behind those of their college-educated peers. As their careers progress, teachers can expect to continually make 20% less than professions with similar education requirements, according to the Economic Policy Institute (Allegretto and Mishel 2019). Lower salaries coupled with the burden of student loan debt can create serious economic pressures for teachers and impact their personal lives—85% of educators sur- veyed said student loan debt has prevented them from achieving life goals, such as buying a house or starting a family (Horace Mann 2020). Others have taken on additional jobs to support their families. This economic pressure can also impact educators’ ability to save for retirement, a key objective for future financial wellness. ANDREY POPOV/STOCK.ADOBE.COM