Business Intelligence: Staffing Up: Compensation and Staffing Survey Results

Weightier leadership titles, expanding support services stand out in NBOA’s 2016-2017 Business Office Compensation and Staffing Survey Report.

Jan 19, 2017

From the January/February 2017 Net Assets Magazine.


Article by Mary Kay Markunas

Is your business office understaffed? What administrative positions do other schools employ? At what enrollment level does it make sense to hire a full-time human resources director? What positions should you outsource? What’s happening with pay?

Exploring these questions and more, NBOA’s 2016-2017 Business Office Compensation and Staffing Survey Report delivers the latest data on how schools structure and staff their business and operational functions. It builds on NBOA’s previous compensation and staffing surveys and breaks down responses by school size and region.

The Chief Business Officer

Reflecting the increasingly strategic role of the chief business officer, the most common job titles are now director of finance/operations and chief financial officer, with business manager continuing to fall further behind in third place. Virtually all schools (99.6 percent) have an individual in the chief business officer function, but just 13.4 percent have a chief operating officer. Compensation for nearly all titles in the role has grown steadily since the 2014-2015 study, especially (and perhaps surprisingly) for those with the title of business manager/director, whose compensation has risen 23.8 percent.

Support Services

Schools have become significantly more likely to employ individuals in support leadership and management positions since the study’s debut in 2011. Consider these increases:

  • Director of technology: up 9.4 percent
  • Director of facilities: up 9.3 percent
  • Controller/bookkeeper: up 21.2 percent
  • Database manager: up 17.6 percent

Enrollment size is a good barometer of when schools appoint director-level positions for support services. Only about a quarter of schools with fewer than 500 students employ an HR director, compared to over half of schools with 500 students or more. The 500-student threshold also seems to be where educational technologists and payroll/benefits coordinators become prevalent. At 800 students, schools become more likely to employ a director of health services, a database manager and a website manager. And enrollment above 1,200 is where you’re more likely to see a director of safety and security.

Outsourcing and Auxiliary Programs

The most commonly outsourced positions in independent school operations are director of food services (outsourced by 72.2 percent of schools), food service staff (76.8 percent), director of safety and security (21.7 percent) and other safety and security personnel (65.8 percent). On average, the food services function has the greatest number of employees (6.9).

On average, the food services function has the greatest number of employees (6.9).

Regarding summer programming, nearly 70 percent of schools offer summer programming of some sort. Summer programming is especially prevalent in the Southeast and New England, and among boarding schools and schools with higher enrollments. Just under 55 percent of schools employ a summer program director, and far fewer have directors of specialized camp programs: 19.1 percent have a recreational, arts or music camp director; 12.2 percent have an academic camp director, and 8 percent have an athletics camp director. For the majority of schools, the term of employment for these positions is less than three months.

Download the full report, which also includes detailed salary information. Previous survey reports from 2011-2012 and 2014-2015 are also available.

Mary Kay Markunas is NBOA’s senior manager of member resources and industry research.



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