September 2017, Vol. 1

HR Extras

District closures could lead to unemployment claims

The devastation of Hurricane Harvey has caused destruction and devastation along the Texas coast and into parts of southeast and central Texas resulting in over 160 district closures. While some districts were able to reconvene after a one-day closure, others have not been as fortunate. These closures may trigger unemployment claims by district employees if the districts do not compensate employees during this time off.

An employee out of work during a disastrous weather event such as a hurricane or flood may have a valid unemployment claim. Such claims would be treated as regular unemployment compensation for the standard 26-week period and employees must be able and available to work during this time. Employers in the state, including school districts, would be protected from any charge for claims that extend beyond the regular 26 weeks, if still during a disaster declaration.

More general information about unemployment benefits is available in the HR Library

Special Session recap

The special session adjourned Tuesday, August 15, without the House and Senate coming to agreement on many of the governor’s 20 priorities. While several of the issues identified by the governor related to school districts—including teacher pay increases, creation of a school finance study commission, and prohibition of schools allowing teachers to pay for association dues via paycheck deductions—only one bill passed that really impacted public education: House Bill (HB) 21. It was signed by the governor on Wednesday, August 16.
 
HB 21 will provide some relief for retired educators by carving out $212 million to help offset hefty TRS-Care premiums during the 2018 and 2019 plan years. The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees approved the TRS-Care plan changes at its September 1 board meeting. The bill also will create the Texas Commission on Public School Finance to recommend improvements to the current school finance system or new methods of financing public schools by December 31, 2018.