Across the United States, private schools are reporting rising enrollment rates. According to the Cato Institute, between the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 academic years, 46% of US private schools saw enrollment increase, with the number of enrolled students rising by about five per school this year. Most schools are also reporting a significant rise in the number of applications, and in some cases, more applications than available seats. The growing number of students could be both a blessing and a curse for these schools. Unlike public schools, which receive local, state, and federal funding, private schools rely on tuition, gifts, and other funding sources to cover operational expenses. Thus, finding the right HR support for schools is one approach private schools can leverage to control costs.

hr support for schools
Private School Funding in 2024

While private schools primarily rely on the income from tuition, gifts, and endowments to cover expenses, the private school choice movement, which began about three decades ago, spurred states to create programs that would provide subsidies through tuition vouchers, education savings accounts, and tax-credit scholarships so that more families would be able to afford the cost of private school education. Currently, 32 states provide these subsidies and last year lawmakers in 42 states proposed various legislation to either create or expand these programs.

Vouchers are state-created programs that enable parents to use state funding at private schools of their choice, including Catholic and other religious schools, to make the cost of attendance more affordable. Many voucher programs are intended to provide greater support and level the playing field for students with disabilities, students who attend poorly performing public schools, and students from low-income families.

However, there has been recent conflict around voucher programs–some people have argued that these vouchers remove funding from public schools without providing the benefits they were designed to. Twelve states currently have voucher programs, of which ten have expanded universal access to these vouchers for all students.

How Can Non-Voucher Private Schools Keep Up?

Private schools in states like Ohio, Florida, and Arizona benefit tremendously from vouchers–the 2022 to 2023 school year saw $354 million go toward Ohio students who applied for the state’s EdChoice program. In many voucher states, school administrators are urging parents to apply, which is increasing demand for these programs. In states without these programs, private schools may look for other ways to control costs. HR support for schools can help private schools become more efficient and compete with public schools. Let’s dive into how.

Recruiting and Retaining Educators

Across the education sector, there is a troubling decline in teachers. Between the falls of 2022 and 2023, the number of teacher vacancies grew by 51% to 55,000 vacant positions across the country. At the same time, the number of people entering the education profession has sharply declined. Fifty years ago, one in five college degrees was in education–now, only 4% are. With this high number of vacancies and a declining talent pool, private schools will face fierce competition when it comes to recruiting and retaining the appropriate staff.

While pay is a motivating factor for recruitment efforts, there are other elements that can improve employee satisfaction and decrease turnover. For example, nearly all independent school teachers desire to have employer contributions to retirement plans, employer-paid health insurance, and dental insurance.

With the right levels of HR support for schools, organizations can create comprehensive benefits packages that can attract and retain experienced educators to their teams. When private schools (including Catholic, Christian, and nondenominational schools) choose an experienced HR partner, the HR partner likely has the resources and clients to negotiate effectively with the insurance and other benefit providers.

Navigating Compliance and Employment Laws

Like any employer, private schools must abide by any applicable HR regulations. This is even more challenging in the education sector because employers also have to ensure teaching staff have the right certifications and are screened in accordance with child safety laws to ensure students’ safety.

HR and employment laws are constantly evolving, which can make it challenging for private schools to keep up. Turning to HR support for schools can take the burden of compliance off the educational institute’s plate, freeing up more time to focus on strategic initiatives. At the same, an experienced HR partner can ensure schools maintain strict compliance and accuracy to avoid costly penalties.

Managing Payroll Accurately and Effectively

For any organization, payroll is a time-intensive and redundant process. For private schools, HR departments that have a wide range of other responsibilities, such as recruiting and screening talent, can find payroll doesn’t provide the strategic benefit other responsibilities do. Still, ensuring payroll is done on time and with accuracy is essential for schools looking to avoid payroll issues with staff. Relying on an experienced payroll provider can ensure that payroll is taken care of accurately and without any delays, which can improve employee experience.

These traditional issues faced by private school HR departments are only exacerbated by the number of students applying for private school enrollment. As voucher programs are incentivizing parents to seek these alternatives to public schooling, it becomes even more important for private schools to find effective tools to retain employees and control other associated costs.

Fortunately, outsourcing HR can provide the necessary support for private school HR teams to be successful and efficient. HR outsourcing partners like Corban OneSource have nearly 30 years of experience providing HR, payroll, and benefits administration to companies with 75 to 6,000 employees. Our team is well-versed in the latest HR regulations across the country so you’re always fully compliant.

With Corban OneSource, you get access to the HR talent you need to provide exceptional employee service. As a result, you’ll be able to retain and recruit employees with greater ease–essential for schools looking to provide the best education to their students.

If you’re looking to learn more about how Corban OneSource supports private schools and enables them to become more competitive and efficient, contact us today. Our US-based team is ready to help you navigate the evolving HR landscape.