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Case Study

A Financial Benefit for All Employees to Remove Barriers to Working in K-12

Bellevue Public Schools recently began offering a holistic financial wellbeing solution, powered by Wagestream: a free benefit that allows employees to access earned wages without waiting for payday. The response has been overwhelmingly positive among classified and certified staff.

Bellevue Public Schools Hero Image

District Background

  • Location

    Omaha, Nebraska

  • K-12 Enrollment


  • Teachers & Staff


  • Product & Solutions

The number one goal for Dr. Sharra Smith, Executive Director of Personnel at Bellevue Public Schools, is to support the district’s employees.

Like many school districts, Bellevue is finding it more challenging than ever to attract qualified professionals — “a huge daily task that takes a lot of time from our staff” — and find workers to fill classified positions, for whom competition among employers is fierce. Certified positions are difficult to fill as well. “As we start to gear up and fill our teaching and certified positions for the upcoming school year, we are really struggling. Anything that we can do to entice people to choose Bellevue Public Schools over another school district, we are open to that as well.”

Bellevue is a suburban school district on the south side of Omaha. Dr. Smith leads a small personnel team comprised of herself and two specialists, working closely with the 2-person Payroll Department.

Crucially, payroll is run once a month, which can be a barrier to people taking jobs in the district. “I am the last step in the interview process as they are filling out all their onboarding paperwork,” says Dr. Smith. “You can see on some of their faces when they realize that they are only going to get paid once a month that this is not going to work for them, and they decide right then and there that they are not going to move forward.”

Dr. Sharra Smith Photo

“I am the last step in the interview process as they are filling out all their onboarding paperwork. You can see on some of their faces when they realize that they are only going to get paid once a month that this is not going to work for them, and they decide right then and there that they are not going to move forward.”

Dr. Sharra Smith
– Executive Director of Personnel

Dr. Smith understands. “Our payroll cutoff is the first Friday of the month. If I hire them on the 10th of the month and they have to work three weeks and then wait two more weeks to get the actual paycheck, they just do not have the financial resources to make that happen.”

Discovering Wagestream

Bellevue Public Schools has partnered with Frontline Education for years. In 2023, the district first began offering a benefit through Frontline and Wagestream that enabled substitute teachers to access up to 40% of their earned pay before official payday. Then Dr. Smith learned about Wagestream’s holistic financial wellbeing offering, in partnership with Frontline. The offering expands the same benefit to all employees in a district, not just substitutes.

Dr. Smith quickly saw an opportunity to serve employees and, at the same time, avoid losing applicants late in the hiring process. “When we bring new employees on board who have come from a situation where they were getting paid every other week, and now it’s monthly pay, for some of them that’s a turnoff. They just can’t. They are just not in a financial position where they can even make that leap to us. I thought, ‘This could help with that as well.’”

Initially, she had some questions, wondering if the benefit was akin to a payday loan and what it would cost employees. “It almost sounded too good to be true. But [Wagestream] explained that they are funded by some of the world’s largest charities and that they want people to have this opportunity.” She learned that Wagestream is a certified B corporation, prioritizing social impact before profit. There is no cost to the district, and the service is entirely under the control of the employees, allowing them to access their earned wages within 1 to 3 business days without incurring any fees. For those in need of instant access to funds, they can do so for a small fee.

Implementing Wagestream

When asked if getting started meant a lot of extra work for the team at Bellevue, Dr. Smith shook her head. “It actually wasn’t. We worked very closely with the team from Wagestream. They were amazing in their responses.” The district sent a payroll report to Wagestream, who took care of the behind-the-scenes work. They began the process in December, and by January 9 were up and running — even with winter break in the mix!

Staff Sign-ups

A system like this only works well if it is easy for staff to enroll in and use, and that is the exact word Dr. Smith uses to describe the process: “It is that easy. It’s just click, click. So easy.”

“It is very user friendly for the payroll staff as they are working with employees, and for the employees themselves.”

Dr. Sharra Smith
– Executive Director of Personnel

Within the first 48-hour registration window, 40 people enrolled. Now that the district has been using the solution for several months, roughly ten percent of the staff has signed up. Bellevue sent out one initial communication using the materials provided by Frontline and Wagestream, and followed up with another email a month later to alert employees that this is an official benefit offered by the district. Information about Wagestream is also included in onboarding materials for all new employees.

“We will do a bigger push again in August, which is when we do all of our benefit pushes for open enrollments for all the new certified staff that we’re bringing on,” says Dr. Smith. “Anybody that wants to sign up for health insurance, vision insurance, all those things, we will add this to that as well.”

“People seem to be able to figure it out and manage it on their own, which we love.”

Dr. Sharra Smith
– Executive Director of Personnel


Employees are now actively using Wagestream and accessing wages they have earned. Some have only used it once — perhaps to pay an unexpected one-time expense — while others use it more regularly. Dr. Smith is looking forward to the impact it will have on hiring and retention and believes it will help the district stay competitive in the labor market. “It is just one more benefit, and we are looking to add anything we can to our toolbox that will be attractive to people.”

She is also pleased that offering Wagestream does not add a significant amount of extra work for the payroll team, noting that adding employees is a quick job for the payroll specialist who oversees the program. “As employees decide to join the program, it’s maybe 45 seconds to a minute per person, so it has very little impact on her….It really does not impact her day-to-day that much, which is what we were hoping for.” When August comes around, it will be part of the salary and benefit package that the department walks through with new employees.

She initially thought that hourly employees would be drawn to the program more than certified staff and was surprised to learn that approximately half of the users are salaried professionals. “I did not think our professional employees would take advantage of it, and actually, we have had as many professional employees, if not more than our hourly employees, take advantage of it.”

Most notably, Dr. Smith says Wagestream is one more way her team can care for teachers and staff. “It is helpful to our employees. That’s our number one goal. Yes, retention and recruitment, but that’s what personnel is, right? We want our people to be happy, we want them to be satisfied. And if it helps them manage their personal finances in a way that they could not do previously, then that is great. We are happy for that.”

“Ease and convenience. It is easy for us to execute, convenient for our employees, simple for our employees. It has been a really great experience for us.”

Dr. Sharra Smith
– Executive Director of Personnel