08/07/2019 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

CS&A Talks Hiring in the Bay Area

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Recruiting and retaining teachers is a challenge across the country. According to reports written in the Economic Policy Institute, the projected supply of new teachers in the country does not meet the demand in public schools. Experts attribute a combination of factors to the growing teacher shortage, including wages, working conditions, cost of living, and lack of school funding.

To inform our work, we keep a constant pulse on the teacher job market. Whether in small rural towns where we serve some of the country's boarding schools or in major cities with dozens of schools, it's important we understand the challenges faced by schools and job seekers in order to best serve them both. Unfortunately, no area of the country has been immune to these issues, and San Francisco Bay Area schools especially have been facing unique hurdles in recruiting and retaining teachers due to rising costs of housing and a competitive job market with flourishing technology and finance sectors.

The Bay Area is a major hub for independent schools, with over 70 in San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, and the North bay. We wanted to learn more about if and how the teacher shortage and high costs of living are affecting the schools we serve in that region. What challenges do schools face around hiring and retaining their preferred candidates? What are schools doing to ensure they hire and keep top educators? What have schools done to address cost of living increases?

On July 30 in San Francisco, John Faubert, CS&A's Director of Placement, and search consultants Jennifer Christensen and Karen Whitaker gathered with leaders from the area's independent schools for a discussion around recruiting and retaining faculty and staff. More than 20 schools were represented as attendees shared the challenges they face in their own hiring and what best practices have proven to be most useful in building a robust candidate pool, hiring top candidates, and keeping faculty and staff for extended tenures.

Confirmed by a pre-event survey taken by Bay Area schools, the biggest challenge in hiring preferred candidates is the cost of living in areas commutable to the hiring school. Access to public transportation and the ability to offer a competitive salary were among other influences. Cost of living considerations were again the largest factor in a school's ability to retain faculty and staff, with most schools indicating that the lack of affordable housing forced employees to leave the Bay Area altogether.

Schools shared a variety of changes they have made in the past several years to address challenges in hiring and retention. A majority said they have increased salaries, while others have increased tuition remission and professional development budgets, offered transportation support, and started providing breakfast and/or lunch to faculty and staff. Some even now offer housing stipends to help offset the cost of living within a reasonable distance of campus.

A number of schools shared frustration around candidates becoming disinterested in relocating to the Bay Area at a late stage in the hiring process, causing delays and setbacks. To mitigate this, schools are explicitly asking about Bay Area connections during the interview process to gauge a candidate's seriousness in the job. They are also discussing cost of living upfront during the initial interview, asking candidates about their knowledge of housing costs to see if they are fully aware of the complexities of living there. Some even offer candidates a salary range before any on-campus interviews so they can withdraw themselves at earlier stages. Other schools have moved away from even considering out-of-area candidates and only interview those local to the Bay Area or who are already committed to moving there.

Challenges in recruiting and retaining faculty are not limited to places like the Bay Area. CS&A plans host similar discussions in other areas of the country in the upcoming months. We thank the school representatives who attended our San Francisco event for their open conversation and willingness to share best practices with us and their peers at other schools. We look forward to digging deeper into recruitment and retention across the country and providing opportunities to learn and share with one another.

Attendees at our San Francisco event
Attendees at our San Francisco event
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