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NBOA Research Roundup: Overtime, Endowments, Data Collection

By Net Assets posted 14 days ago

  
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Scaling Back Overtime Pay

On August 31, a federal judge in Texas struck down the Obama-era federal overtime rules that would have raised the minimum salary level for exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act from $23,660 to $47,476. Many schools had spent months preparing for the rules to take effect, often making salary or schedule adjustments among staff who would have become eligible for overtime, but the ruling effectively froze the minimum salary level at 2004 levels. At least for now.

In the meantime, the current Department of Labor took steps to propose its own new regulations by issuing a Request for Information (RFI) from employers regarding potential overtime changes. NBOA and NAIS distributed a survey to 2,456 business officers asking how their schools had prepared for the Obama-era rules, and how they would react to potential changes described in the RFI. Key findings:

  • 49 percent of school respondents had made salary or hour adjustments. 63 percent of those kept the changes in place even after the rules were put on hold.
  • 43 percent said that setting different salary levels for different types of exemptions (executive, administrative, professional) would be a poor idea and would make compliance more complex. Just over half (53 percent) supported focusing eligibility solely on duties and eliminating the salary test altogether.
  • 72 percent of school respondents said they favored a separate salary level for nonprofits.

The survey also asked open-ended questions. “The responses confirmed what we knew in speaking to schools: that the biggest impact of the proposed changes was on employee morale,” said Grace Lee, NBOA’s vice president of legal affairs. “Employees felt being classified as exempt meant they were treated as professionals and had more flexibility in their roles.” Schools especially struggled with how to handle employees who wanted to volunteer and perform extra duties, such as chaperoning overnight trips, but had been reclassified as non-exempt. Lee also noted that boarding schools in particular expressed concerns, given the 24/7 nature of some of their workforce. NBOA and NAIS submitted their joint response to the RFI on September 25. Read more about NBOA's joint response with NAIS, "A Challenge for a School Mid-Year": Overtime Rule Responses.

Sizing Up Endowments

NBOA and Commonfund are currently surveying NBOA members about their schools’ endowments. As with previous annual surveys since 2009, the 2017 Commonfund Benchmarks Study explores total returns, asset allocations, spending-and-flow funds, debt, investment management and governance. The report, expected to be released in March, will help schools evaluate questions such as whether to change asset allocations or endowment spending. See past endowment studies.

Rolling Out BIIS

Finally, schools have entered their data into BIIS (Business Intelligence for Independent Schools), NBOA’s best-in-class data-collection platform. As Net Assets magazine was going to press, NBOA and its partner on BIIS, Measuring Success, were triple-checking functions to ensure business officers can easily and accurately enter a wide range of financial data — expenses, compensation, financial aid, admissions, facilities and more. After a brief data review period, participants can benchmark their school’s health against others in their peer class.

Available exclusively to NBOA members and designed to replace most other NBOA surveys (excluding Commonfund), BIIS is the culmination of years of listening to business officers request comparative financial data that can help them operate their schools more successfully. BIIS represents a huge leap forward from previous research efforts in its scope (many types of data on a single platform), functionality (many ways to filter and sort), ease of use (accessed via NBOA member credentials) and breadth (incorporates years of member data from previous surveys).

NBOA members can access BIIS using their usual log-in credentials at biis.nboa.org

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