Identifying trends among male, female superintendents

In Texas, male superintendents outnumber females nearly five to one—only 19 percent of Texas superintendents are female. While 77 percent of teachers are female, the majority of district superintendents are male. This trend holds true across all types of Texas districts.
There are a variety of reasons why female superintendents are less common. Across many fields, there are cases of bias against hiring females into top leadership positions, and women are still underrepresented nationally in a variety of leadership roles, according to a study by Pew Research Center. A school board or community may not intentionally prefer a male candidate over a female one, but even subconscious preferences do play a role, according to a report from the University of Virginia. Women may self-select to stay out of central administration, and they may avoid seeking leadership roles because of family considerations or the time investment required. Moving from central administration to the superintendency might require relocation, and becoming superintendent in a larger district is often preceded by multiple relocations.

Among newly-hired superintendents, 18 percent are female. There appears to have been a boom in hiring females about four years ago; among superintendents with four years in their district, 24 percent are female. The longest tenured administrators show the opposite trend. Of superintendents who have held their position in the district 10 or more years, only 16 percent were female. This could mean that fewer female superintendents were being hired 10 or more years ago, but it could also indicate that females move between districts more often, possibly pursuing career opportunities in larger districts.
Over one-quarter of all Texas superintendents have a doctoral degree. Of the doctorate holders, 25 percent were female, compared to the 19 percent of all superintendents that are female. This indicates that a higher proportion of female superintendents are pursuing this degree than males. Regardless of gender, superintendents may seek this additional degree to make themselves more competitive candidates for district administration or to make themselves more attractive to larger districts.

Medium-sized districts, those with between 1,000 and 4,999 students, have the highest proportion of female superintendents. This represents 327 districts, 23 percent of which have female superintendents. The 105 districts with over 10,000 students have the smallest proportion of female superintendents, with only 12 percent. When it comes to community type, there were markedly fewer female superintendents in the largest metropolitan districts. TEA identifies 10 major urban districts in Texas, and none have female superintendents. Of 78 major suburban districts, only 9 have female leaders (12 percent). The 444 rural districts in the state match the state overall, with 19 percent having female superintendents.

Nine of Texas’ 20 education service center (ESC) regions had more than 20 percent female superintendents, and three of those were ESC’s that include a metropolitan area (Houston, El Paso, and San Antonio). However, as noted above, the female superintendents in those regions are not generally found in the major urban and suburban districts, they are in the ring of districts just outside those areas. In addition, the Richardson/Dallas ESC had very few female superintendents—only seven of 79 (9 percent).
Of 1,024 districts, the percentage of economically disadvantaged students was available for 942 districts (others were restricted because of FERPA). In half of these districts, more than 58 percent of the students are categorized as economically disadvantaged, which means they are eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Program. Female superintendents were twice as common in districts with more economically disadvantaged students; in these, 25 percent of superintendents were female, compared to only 13 percent female in the less economically disadvantaged ones.
One hot-button issue when it comes to gender is salary. Based on the 432 districts in which the necessary data was available, gender was not a significant predictor of salary on its own, nor when controlling for individual and district characteristics. However, gender may play a role. Pieces of data for almost 600 districts were missing, so the full picture is unknown. For 432 participants with complete data, salary differences were mostly driven by enrollment, total experience in education, having a doctorate, being in a major or central community, or being in an ESC that includes a metropolitan area. Other survey sources show that women are often promoted to the superintendency later in their careers, which means they spend more of their superintendent career in the smaller districts outside metropolitan areas that often serve as developing grounds for new superintendents.

Farewell letter from Cindy Clegg

Dear Friends of HR Services:

By the time you read this, I will have retired as the director of HR Services and will be on leave for the summer. After 32 years in this role, it is time for a new chapter in my life with less to worry over and more focus on family. Gratefully, I will be returning in a part-time capacity this fall to work in compensation services with our member districts—my original passion. 

I have been honored by the opportunity to build the HR Services program at TASB and to work with so many dedicated leaders in Texas schools. And I have been blessed to work with a talented team that I could completely trust to do the right things professionally and ethically every day.

I once read a quote in Jim Walsh’s Law Dawg by the NY Times columnist David Brooks, “Leadership is a passionate activity that begins with a warm gratitude toward that which you have inherited and a fervent wish to steward it well.” My career has indeed been a passionate activity for which I still have tremendously warm gratitude. And I could not be more pleased than to hand the reins of stewardship to Amy Campbell, the next director of HR Services. Amy has been assistant director for three years and she has plenty of passion and the talent to lead HR Services for the next generation. 

When I reflect back over the years and the relationships, I am inspired by your heart, dedication, and resilience. I have often said that school people are the best kind of people—and those who are chosen to be the HR leaders are the best of the best. We have faced so many challenges together as human resources grew more complex and demanding over the past three decades. In the beginning there was no FLSA, FMLA, ADA, ACA, TTAS, PDAS, T-TESS, term contracts, and so on. Staffing and salary decisions were driven by state formula funding with little local control. So you can see how far we have come together—and yet there is still a long way to go.  As I have cleaned out 34 years of files, I am struck by the problem issues back then that still linger today, namely the challenges in staffing our classrooms with high quality teachers and how we pay them. I look forward to the opportunity to continue working with you on these important issues.

To our members, thank you for all the support and all the fun we have had together over the years. I have learned so much from you. It has been a great honor for me to serve in this role. 
With gratitude,
Cindy H. Clegg

Communicating and implementing FLSA changes

By now, most districts have identified employees who will be impacted by the new FLSA salary threshold rules. As outlined in the article, Implementing the Revised Fair Labor Standard Act Rules, that appeared in the recent special edition of the HR Exchange, districts have two options to address these employees—raise the salary to meet the $913 per week threshold or change the employees’ FLSA status to nonexempt.
Confirm position meets the duties test
Before moving forward to consider the options, it is a good idea to ensure that jobs currently classified as exempt still meet the duties criteria of the executive, administrative, professional, or computer employee exemption test. If the job doesn’t meet the duties test, the salary threshold is irrelevant and the job should be reclassified as nonexempt. Jobs often misclassified include first-line supervisors, administrative assistants, payroll staff, and buyers.
If the job meets the duties test, one of the options below must be applied.
Option 1—raise the salary
There are four issues to consider before raising an individual’s salary. First, can the district afford it? If an employee earns close to the $913 per week, it probably would not cost much to increase base pay. It may be helpful to compare the cost of raising base pay against the estimated cost of overtime to determine which would be most cost-effective.
For those who make considerably less than the minimum, including part-time professionals (e.g., physical or occupational therapists), a large increase may not be practical.
Second, the district must determine the effective date of the increase. Any change must be done by December 1, 2016. Many employers are making the increase effective for the first payroll where December 1 falls. Another option is to set the effective date as the first day of an employee’s contract or the start of the fiscal year. The impact of each date on the district’s budget should be considered.
The next question to consider is whether increasing an individual’s salary will cause pay compression. Compression is when there is little or no difference in pay between employees with different levels of skills or experience. If compression is an issue, consider the issue of affordability—can the district afford to increase the pay of other employees to manage compression?
Be aware that increasing a contract employee’s salary mid-year may require the board to conduct a public hearing. A hearing may be unnecessary if the district’s pay plan provides for an increase. More information about this requirement can be found in TASB School Law eSource.
Option 2—change the status to nonexempt
Treating the impacted employees as nonexempt means they:

  • Must be paid for all hours worked—this includes checking e-mail, working at home, staying late, and coming in on weekends and holidays
  • Must be paid at least minimum wage when their salary is translated to an hourly rate
  • Are subject to FLSA timekeeping requirements and must maintain weekly time sheets that accurately reflect actual hours worked; time clocks and electronic records are not required, but it is up to the district to ensure that accurate records of all hours worked are kept
  • Must receive an overtime premium for any hours worked over 40 in a seven-day workweek in the form of pay or compensatory time

As part of your budget planning, it is important to estimate the cost of overtime going forward. HR should work with the supervisor and the employee to estimate the amount of overtime that will be incurred. Time spent checking mail, working during a holiday, completing paperwork, and responding to e-mail after hours must be included.

Consider other possibilities

Districts have other options, but once again, the costs must be weighed against budgeting for overtime. First, determine if it is practical to limit the work schedule of an employee who becomes nonexempt to 40 hours. This requires analyzing work flow, processes, and staffing levels to determine if the work can be done more efficiently or whether duties and assignments need to be reorganized. Investing in software and automated systems may also help in reducing the number of work hours required.

Another possibility is to hire additional staff. It may be less expensive to hire a part-time worker or someone at a lower pay rate who can handle more routine work than to pay overtime. If you consider hiring additional staff, be sure to look at the total compensation package and factor in the cost of benefits.

There is a third possibility for at-will employees—lower base wages to take overtime into account. For example, if an employee typically works 42 hours per week, his or her regular annual salary could be reduced. However, with the two hours of overtime, the amount earned would remain the same. In this scenario, the employee may make the same or potentially more money because overtime regularly occurs.

And finally, consider the possibility that the change in exemption may result in two employees in the same job being classified differently. For example, a new hire with no experience is paid less than $913 per week and classified as nonexempt while an experienced employee with the same duties is paid at or above the threshold and is exempt. You don’t have to change the job’s pay grade assignment. However, you will need to decide if just the nonexempt employee or both of them will keep time records. You also will want to consider possible morale issues resulting from this (e.g., hourly employee is sent home to avoid overtime, while the exempt employee must work beyond the regular schedule to complete the work).

Communication is the key to success

The most important factor to making a smooth transition is to communicate changes in a clear and effective way. Plan ahead and start talking to employees and supervisors about the changes as soon as possible using the following tips:

  • Outline their responsibility for monitoring employee work hours and ensuring accurate timekeeping.
  • Remind them that they are accountable for controlling and approving overtime.
  • Point out that overtime costs will be charged to their budget.
  • Ensure the HR administrator conducts the initial discussion and addresses any questions that follow.
  • Plan for individual conversations with employees who are impacted. Only address employees as a group if the change applies to multiple individuals in the same position.
  • Include the supervisor in the initial meeting.
  • Stress that the change is because of a change in federal law and not a reflection of the employee’s performance or value to the district.
  • Identify job changes, if any, restrictions for working after hours and off the clock, and timekeeping requirements.
  • Ensure the employees understand they will need permission to work overtime or to take work home.

It also is important to start working with payroll as soon as possible so they can plan for the transition and determine if any programming changes are needed. Describe the scope of the changes including the number of employees affected and other issues that may arise (e.g., employees in same job may be exempt and nonexempt).

And finally, provide an overview of the upcoming changes to the board. Key points to communicate include the number of employees impacted, potential cost increase if any, and that the change is a result of federal law.

Other resources

Sample notices for communicating changes to supervisors and employees are available to our members in the Compensation and Benefits section of the HR Library. Two recorded webinars that provide detailed information on the new FLSA changes are available to HR Services members. Registration is free and can be accessed on the HR Services webinar page. Please contact us if you have any questions.

7 ways to improve online applications

The days of sorting through paper job applications on a desk already swarming with files and documents may be over, but the novelty of collecting all submissions through the Internet also comes with its own challenges.

Technology is moving forward rapidly, and it’s tough to keep up with the latest trends and best practices for online application administration, distribution, and management. Fortunately, we’ve come up with some ways to make sure your district’s online recruiting presence is current.

1. Provide flexibility

Many job seekers are scrolling through career search websites when they come across your district’s posting. Can they apply directly from the career search website, right from their phone or tablet? Or do they have to leave the website and fill out the forms on your district’s page? Candidates are more likely to apply if they can do it with a click of a button on Indeed or LinkedIn.

2. Simplify and streamline

More than 60 percent of candidates quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of their length or complexity, according to a report from CareerBuilder. Having multiple pages of questions to go through is tedious and time consuming, and districts should avoid too lengthy or complex processes. A study from Appcast found that recruiters can boost completion rates by up to 365 percent by reducing the time it takes to complete an application to five minutes or less. Districts should be cautious in requiring more than name, contact information, basic questions about work eligibility, and resume or LinkedIn profile access to submit an application.

3. Make it mobile friendly

A report by Kelton, a strategic consultancy, states 86 percent of active candidates use their smartphones to begin a job search. If your district’s website is responsive to mobile access, that can mean a larger applicant pool.
4. Reduce redundancy

Don’t ask candidates to re-enter resume information after they have already submitted a resume file. That is unequivocally the most frustrating thing for applicants to endure, and it is responsible for high numbers of abandoned applications.

5. Make it searchable

Competing with hundreds of other districts for top candidates can make it difficult for yours to stand out. Listing a job only on the district website is usually not going to reach all potential applicants for most districts. Sites like Indeed (a national career search site with headquarters in Austin), LinkedIn, TeachingJobs, K12 Jobspot, and even Craigslist are all places districts should consider posting their vacancies. Announcing new openings on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be helpful, too.

6. Give applicants status updates

Talent Board vice president Kevin Grossman said candidates want more than a simple “Thank you for completing our application.” Updating job seekers at each point of the application reviewing process keeps candidates engaged and less likely to forget about the company and move on to other options. Let them know when the application has been successfully received and when it is being reviewed. Districts can do a little extra by notifying candidates they are in the process of reaching out to their references, or deciding their finalists. Any communication is good communication from an applicant’s standpoint. Check your application system to determine if it can provide applicants with automatic updates.

7. Ask for feedback

The best way to improve your process is to solicit and respond to feedback. People who have been through your specific application have the most to offer in terms of quality, accurate criticism. Implement a process for obtaining information from your new hires and take the time to complete an application yourself. 

TRS ActiveCare changes for 2016–17

Plan benefits administration by Aetna for TRS ActiveCare, such as processing claims and network management, will not change for the next school year. However, members will see a change in plan premiums and benefits design for 2016–17. TRS ActiveCare is a statewide health coverage program that is self-funded—not an insured plan. This means that rates and benefits are determined by the TRS Trustees based on the claims activities of the plan, not by the vendors who administer the program.
TRS introduced TRS ActiveCare on September 1, 2002, and currently, over 460,000 employees and dependents participate in the program. Across the state, 1,245 districts and entities are eligible to participate, and more than 90 percent of those eligible do participate in TRS ActiveCare.

The following chart reflects the rates for Employee Only coverage for all three TRS ActiveCare plan options since 2003. ActiveCare 2 rates were mostly steady from 2003 through 2008 but have increased every year since 2008. Although ActiveCare 1-HD has only been around since 2009, its monthly premium increased almost every year until 2014 and again this year; and ActiveCare Select, only available since 2014, has increased its monthly premium every year since its inception.


(Click image to view in full size )

Teacher Retirement System of Texas Board of Trustees voted on 2016-17 TRS ActiveCare rates at their June board meeting. These new rates will go into effect on September 1, 2016. The board voted unanimously to implement the new rates as presented and recommended by the Budget Committee, and, with the exceptions of ActiveCare 1-HD, the vote resulted in yet another increase to employee health insurance.
According to the Budget Committee Booklet from the June 16, 2016 TRS Board meeting, this increase is largely because of the addition of seven full-time employees, which will cost approximately $500,000 to provide additional member support services, member-level accounting, and more efficient, streamlined healthcare procurement monitoring for both TRS-ActiveCare and TRS-Care plans.
TRS ActiveCare PPO plan premiums increased between 2.23 percent and 5.05 percent over last year’s premiums, and HMO plan premiums at an even higher ratio, between 5.02 percent and 12.82 percent. Unfortunately, the state has not increased its contribution of $75/month since TRS ActiveCare was implemented 14 years ago, and the required contribution amount from the state and district combined remains at $225/month. TRS ActiveCare PPO plan members also will see changes in benefit design such as an increase to their out-of-pocket maximum thresholds and copays, but individual and family deductible amounts did not change. HMO plan members will experience increases to their out-of-pocket maximum thresholds, copays, and deductibles, depending on which HMO plan they are enrolled.

HR Extras

The 10 most desired skills in an employee

Verbal communication and teamwork are the skills employers value the most, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.  

The Job Outlook 2016 survey asked employers to rate the importance of candidate skills and qualities on a scale of one to five, and verbal communication topped the list with a 4.63 average score. The ability to work in a team structure trailed closely behind with a 4.62 rating, while the ability to sell or influence others was rated the least important quality of an employee.  

Of the 10 skills listed, technical knowledge related to the job was ranked the 7th most important quality an employer seeks. This statistic speaks to the growing trend that hiring character and then teaching the required skills is perhaps more beneficial than hiring established talent with uncertain intangibles.

The full table of skills and their aligning ratings can be found below:

Weighted Average Rating
Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization 4.63
Ability to work in a team structure 4.62
Ability to make decisions and solve problems 4.49
Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work 4.41
Ability to obtain and process information 4.34
Ability to analyze quantitative data 4.21
Technical knowledge related to the job 3.99
Proficiency with computer software programs 3.86
Ability to create and/or edit written reports 3.60
Ability to sell or influence others 3.55

Retention interviews can make a big difference in employee satisfaction

One way to combat the teacher shortage is to place an emphasis on retaining the educators you already employ. This can be a challenge, especially in light of a recent survey that found one in three workers in the U.S. is likely to leave their current employer within six months.

The survey, conducted by Saba Software and, found that 60 percent of HR leaders believe their companies provide employees a clear career path, while only 36 percent of employees believe this to be true. Additionally, only 40 percent of HR leaders identify impact players and future leaders via performance review, which is a concern, considering 45 percent of employees want to move into a management or executive position within the next five years.

Some districts utilize exit interviews to identify the reasons their teachers are leaving, but another best practice may prevent employees from departing in the first place. Taking some time to conduct a “retention,” or “stay,” interview allows the district to address any concerns before they turn into problems big enough to motivate teachers to begin a new job search. It’s also an opportunity to build trust with teachers and provide them the platform to communicate ideas or improvements to the district operations and workplace.

Many topics in our Sample Exit Interview form (available in the HR Library) are transferrable to a list of retention interview questions by simply switching tenses from past to present. A few examples are listed below:
  • What do you like most about the district and your job?
  • What do you like least about the district and your job?
  • Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
  • How is your workload?
  • Are you receiving adequate support to do your job?
Diving into these topics before they become major issues can help districts retain their teachers and establish strong communication and trust between employer and employee. In a climate where quality teachers are at a premium, it’s best to try new and unique tactics to keep your top educators on your team.

Methods for retaining teachers, including retention interviews, are addressed in the HR Services workshop, Hiring Effective Teachers and Keeping Them. Information on this workshops and other in-district training is available in the HR Services training web page. 

DOL releases new FMLA poster and employer guide

The U.S. Department of Labor recently released an updated version of the FMLA poster, which employers are required to post in a location where it can be readily seen by employees and applicants for employment. The new poster, dated April 2016, is reformatted and contains additional information on military caregiver leave. Currently, only an updated English version is available. The Spanish version of the poster has not been updated.

Districts are not required to replace their posters at this time. According to the DOL, the February 2013 version of the FMLA poster, which is included on the TASB Federal Worksite Poster for Public Employees, is still good and can be used to fulfill the posting requirement.

The DOL also released a new guide to help employers understand their obligations and administrative options under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Employer’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act explains the FMLA regulations in a user-friendly manner and is designed to answer common questions about the FMLA. The guide is available as a pdf download from the DOL Wage and Hour Division Website. Print copies will be available to order from the Wage an Hour Online Publication System by mid-June.

Inside HR Services

Superintendent Salary Survey launches in July

The HR Services salary survey season begins with the launch of the TASB/TASA Superintendent Salary Survey. On July 20, an invitation to the online questionnaire will be e-mailed to school district superintendents. The due date to submit the superintendent salary data is August 26.

The survey goes into detail on the compensation and benefits of Texas’ top school executives. Make the most of your HR Services membership by taking part in this one-of-a-kind survey. Submit your survey to use DataCentral to create market comparison reports of the data. Survey results will be available in October.
The schedule for our other salary surveys is outlined in the chart below. Additional details will be included in upcoming issues of HR Exchange.
Survey Invitation Date Due Date Results Posted
Teacher / District Personnel 9/1/16 10/7/16 12/5/16
Extra-Duty Stipend 10/25/16 11/18/16 1/24/17
Recorded webinars on FLSA changes are free!
On May 18, the Department of Labor (DOL) released the final of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations updating the salary threshold for exemption status. Districts will need to ensure that exempt employees are paid at least $913 per week by December 1.
HR Services has two recorded webinars available to help districts prepare to comply with the new requirements. The first, Three Simple Steps to Identify Employees Impacted by the New FLSA Rules, outlines the steps districts can take to determine which employees will meet the revised salary threshold for exempt employees and which will not. 
The second webinar, Next Steps—Options to Ensure Compliance with the New FLSA Rules and How to Communicate with Employees about the FLSA Changes, provides guidance on how to handle employees whose salaries fall below the new threshold. Tips for communicating FLSA changes with employees in a clear and effective way also are addressed.
Access to these webinars is free and limited to HR Services members. Registration is available on the HR Services training page.
Ensure your HR Services contact information is current
Each year, we provide an opportunity to update your district contacts and online user information. Our goal is to ensure that you continue to receive HR Services news, information, and event announcements. In late-May, HR Services sent each program contact a list of the information we have on file for their district. Please be sure to review the information and confirm that it’s correct, or make the necessary changes, additions, and deletions, and return the form to us at by July 1.
Connect with us at the TASPA Summer Conference
Please stop by the HR Services’ display at the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA) Summer Conference on July 14–15, 2016. Information about our services and products will be available, along with a list of dates for our Austin workshops and webinars. HR Services staff also will present the following sessions:
Thursday, July 14
  • $The Stipend is Right$, 8:30–9:30 am
  • Extra, Extra, Hear All About the FLSA Changes, 10 to 11 a.m. and 2:05–3:05 p.m.
  • Six Straightforward Steps to Tackling Job Descriptions, 3:15–4:15 p.m.
Friday, July 15
  • Developing Quality Standards for Teacher Selection, 8:30–9:30 a.m.

Q&A: Lunch breaks and FLSA

Q: If we establish a rule that employees may only eat lunch at their desk if they don’t do any work, do we have to pay them during their lunch period?

A: Maybe. A bona fide meal break is not considered work time. Therefore, it is not compensable. To be a bona fide meal break, the employee must be completely relieved of duty for the purpose of eating regular meals. Thirty consecutive minutes is usually considered long enough to qualify as a bona fide meal period.
It is a challenge to keep employees from being interrupted with work when they are at their desks. Answering the phone, reading district e-mail, or responding to work-related questions from parents or coworkers constitutes work and interrupts the meal break. When that happens, the time becomes compensable.
Although the district may establish a rule about not working during lunch, the district is still responsible for paying employees whenever they perform work and ensuring that overtime is appropriately compensated. Rules may be enforced through disciplinary action but the employee must still be paid. Saldivar v. Austin ISD is a perfect example (Saldivar v. Austin Indep. Sch. Dist., Cause No. A-14-CA-00117-SS, 2015 WL 5655699 (W.D. Tex. Sept. 24, 2015). In that case, the employee sued the district for unpaid overtime. She presented a calendar showing days she claimed to have worked through lunch creating the overtime situation. AISD had a rule that allowed employees to eat lunch at their desks if they were not doing work.

Although the supervisor was aware that office employees were eating at their desk, she didn’t remind them of the rule. The court found that the district owed the employee overtime because the supervisor should have known Saldivar was working during lunch.