June-July 2015

HR Extras

TEA announces two percent increase in state minimum teacher salary schedule

The state minimum teacher salary schedule will increase by 2 percent per year of experience for the 2015‒16 school year as a result of a change in the basic allotment funding. Annual pay rates increased by between $540 and $890 depending on years of experience, with each step increasing by 2 percent.
 
TASB’s annual salary survey for 2014‒15 found that only eight district respondents, employing 353 total teachers, still paid teachers according to the state minimum salary schedule. Districts are required to pay at least the state base monthly salary for a teacher’s creditable years of service. However, most Texas teachers are paid above the required schedule amounts. The weighted average Texas teacher salary for 2014‒15 was just more than $51,000, which is nearly $5,500 higher than the highest level salary on the state base scale.
 
The updated schedule is available on the TEA website and takes effect at the beginning of the 2015‒16 school year. 
 

TASPA names Benitez new executive director

The Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA) recently announced that Rose Benitez has been named the organization’s new executive director and will assume her duties on July 1. Benitez will replace Melva Cárdenas, who is retiring.
 
Benitez retired after 27 years of Texas public education experience including 20 years in HR. She has worked in a variety of positions, including teacher, bilingual/ESL instructional supervisor, and in HR as an assistant superintendent, director, and recruiter in Alief, Cypress-Fairbanks, and Houston ISDs. She also has a doctorate in educational administration.
 
Cárdenas will work with Benitez through the transition.

TASPA reaches new membership milestone

In late May, TASPA executive director Melva Cárdenas announced that the organization has reached a new membership milestone, surpassing the 1,000 member mark. Cárdenas thanked members for their continued support.

TASB Legal Services publishes frequently asked questions on nepotism

TASB Legal Services recently published an updated set of frequently asked questions called Conflicts of Interest: Nepotism on its School Law eSource Website. The document helps school administrators understand and avoid hiring decisions that could result in nepotism in their district.

ETS practice teacher certification tests available online

ETS offers interactive, online practice tests for prospective educators. These are full-length, practice tests that include correct answers, explanations for correct answers, and a score summary report.
 
Practice tests available include the following:
  • TExES Pedagogy and Professional  Responsibilities EC‒12
  • Mathematics 7‒12
  • Science 7‒12
  • Bilingual Target Language Proficiency Test Spanish
Many districts hire teachers who have yet to earn certification or have teachers who want to add an additional certification. HR can direct staff to the ETS Website to help them prepare for the test. The practice exams simulate what will happen when they take the actual test, giving test takers valuable feedback on their preparedness.

Out-of-state teachers with valid certificates can fill Oklahoma teaching jobs

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin recently signed a law allowing the state’s board of education to issue a teaching certificate to anyone with an out-of-state certificate who meets highly qualified requirements. The new law was intended to help Oklahoma fill around 1,000 classroom vacancies, but few think it will succeed.
 
The change is not likely to result in significant teacher attrition in Texas because Oklahoma’s teacher salaries are substantially lower than those offered here. “I can’t see a teacher from Texas or somewhere else come across state lines to take a $10,000 pay cut even if you are qualified,” said Wilson Public Schools Superintendent Eric Smith. 

DOL publishes new FMLA forms

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently published updated FMLA notices and certification forms. The long-awaited model forms have a 2018 expiration date.
 
TASB HR Services also updated the sample FMLA notices and forms in our HR Library. The HR Library’s FMLA notices and forms are available in Microsoft Word, allowing school districts to customize them as necessary.