Equity in Education: Managing Teacher Retention with Budget Constraints

In recent years, the education sector has experienced a challenge with teacher retention, a crisis that is part of the phenomenon many know as the Great Resignation. Teachers across the nation have been leaving teaching behind due to a combination of factors, including low salaries and burnout. While one-time funds have provided temporary relief, they have also created unsustainable compensation increases. In last month’s webinar with Nina Bhatia, ACE Charter CEO Kennedy Hilario, and Charter Impact’s Managing Director of Client Finance, Jason Sitomer, the hosts explored a few key ideas surrounding the teacher shortage crisis. While this topic is incredibly nuanced, these three seasoned advocates for equity in schools identified a few ways school leaders can develop or refine their existing structures to attract and retain top talent while facing enrollment and budget challenges. 


Retention Strategy 1: Identify Your School’s Compensation Philosophy


One step school leaders need to take is to develop or refine their compensation philosophy. This process will help you determine what factors to take into consideration when determining how much you pay staff. Edgility’s worksheet can guide you through this process to assess the extent to which your compensation program aligns with the core pillars of compensation equity we recommend to all our clients. 


Additional questions to consider:

  1. What compensation strategies will make your school a destination for top talent to join and stay?
  2. What do your current compensation policies communicate (implicitly/explicitly) about your school or network’s values?
  3. What are teacher and leader perspectives on potential areas of redesign for the compensation program?

Retention Strategy 2: Keep a Pulse on Staff Perspectives


To retain teachers, it’s vital to regularly gather data on staff perspectives. This involves comprehensive and consistent factors related to equity, including an organization’s ability to attract, engage, develop, assess, and reward their team. By obtaining regular feedback and breaking down the results by staff group and demographics, schools can identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement that may keep staff engaged without increasing salaries.


Retention Strategy 3: Engage a Talent Strategy


Building a talent pool starts with creating a great experience for students and encouraging them to become educators themselves. When planting the seeds for students to become educators, leaders must also be aware of the needs of their current staff. Students aren’t going to choose a career full of strife and lacking in opportunities, so show them that you value your teachers. ACE Charter’s CEO, Kennedy Hilario encourages other school leaders to show teachers that they’ve been heard and something will be done about their concerns.


A clear career roadmap is essential to retain top talent, and a clear talent strategy is essential for leadership. Teachers and educational staff should have a transparent understanding of how they can advance in their careers within the organization. These programs should be designed with a clear vision, stakeholder input, and external support. Career pathways provide opportunities for incremental leadership development and financial rewards while ensuring funding sustainability. 


Remember, clarity, consistency, and transparency are the pillars of equity in action.


What Else Can You Offer?


While salary increases are important, and closing wage gaps is a must, schools should also consider other incentives to attract and retain teachers. These may include options such as flex days, support staff, professional development opportunities, career options, and recognition programs.


An Ongoing Challenge


The teacher shortage crisis is a complex issue that cannot be solved with salary increases alone. However, our experts agree that by engaging a few of these strategies and making informed budget decisions, schools can begin to create an environment where educators thrive, benefiting both students and the education system as a whole. 


Ready to get started? Talk with one of our experts.


Put your values to work. Act on equity.

We believe equity isn’t a box to check. It’s a daily action. Someone’s unique identity isn’t something to overcome–when paired with the right opportunity, it becomes one of their greatest professional assets. We exist to empower social impact organizations to recognize and overcome unconscious bias, racism and sexism so they can build a workforce that reflects and strengthens the communities they serve.