Q: Can a district pay noncontract employees when it is closed for an emergency?
A: Yes, the district can choose to pay noncontract employees when schools are closed as a result of pandemic flu, hurricanes, or other disasters as long as it takes steps to establish that doing so serves a public purpose. Otherwise, the payments may be an improper use of public funds.
If the board chooses to pay employees during a school closure, it must adopt a resolution or similar action at an open meeting that complies with the Open Meetings Act. The resolution must address, at a minimum, all of the following:
- The public purpose served by continuing wage payments (e.g., increases morale and reduces employee turnover)
- Which employees will continue to receive wages
- The duration of the pay
If additional pay is offered to employees required to work while the school is closed, i.e., maintenance or custodial staff, the board will also need to address that action in the resolution. TASB Policy DEA (LOCAL), at Pay During Closing, allows a district to authorize such payment. A template resolution is available in the TASB Policy Service Regulations Resource Manual at DEA (EXHIBIT) (myTASB Login required).
Additional questions about compensating employees during school closings are addressed in the TASB Legal Services School Law eSource document, Personnel Issues During Epidemics and School Closings.
April Mabry is an assistant director at TASB HR Services. Send April an email at email@example.com.
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