The teacher service record (FIN-115) or a similar form is the official document used to record years of service claimed for salary increment purposes and state leave data.
It’s the responsibility of the issuing school district or charter school to ensure service records are true and correct and that all service recorded was actually performed. Service records must be kept on file and validated by a person designated by the school district or charter school to sign it.
The Commissioner’s Rules on Creditable Years of Service, Title 19, Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §153.1021–1022, outline the requirements for determining an individual’s years of experience and minimum salary requirements.
Q: When must a school district or charter school provide a service record?
A: The original service record must be given to the employee or an employing school district or charter school upon request. Districts are required to provide the record no later than the 30th day after the request is made or the 30th day after the date of the last day of the individual’s employment, whichever is later (Texas Education Code (TEC) §21.4031).
The original service record should be verified by the employee and a legible copy maintained by the organization for audit purposes. A scanned version of a service record may be considered an original copy if the document is given directly to the employing school district.
Current employees also may request a service record for reasons other than moving to another school district. For these purposes, the district should respond to the request within 30 days. This record wouldn’t include the current year of service if it is made during the school year.
Q: How are creditable years of service calculated?
A: The minimum requirements for a year of service to count as creditable are detailed in 19 TAC §153.1021(f). The calculations for the amount of time needed for a creditable year of service have changed over the years and can be viewed on the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website.
Beginning with the 1998–1999 school year, 90 days of full-time employment or 180 days of part-time employment are required for the year to count as creditable. The 90 days required at 100 percent may be equivalent to four and one-half months or a full semester. The 180 days required at 50–99 percent of the day may be equivalent to 90 full-time equivalent days, using the percent of day employed multiplied by the number of days employed.
Q: Can an employee work less than a full school year and still receive a year of creditable service?
A: Yes, an employee who works a full semester or four and one-half months is entitled to a year of service credit. If the teacher was hired mid-year, the number of days employed during the same school year at the previous district or charter school will be combined with the employing district to determine the total days for the year. Under no circumstances can an individual earn more than one year of service for a school year.
Most entities wait until the end of the school year to determine if an employee has earned one year of creditable service. However, the calculation may be made earlier for employees who leave the district at the semester break or before the end of the year.
Q: Can a certified educational aide or any other employee receive credit for years of service performed before becoming teacher certified for salary purposes?
A: Yes, the district is required to recognize up to two years of full-time equivalency for salary increment purposes when a certified educational aide obtains a teacher certificate for the first time and transitions to a teaching role (19 TAC §153.1021 (m)). This requirement began with the 2004–2005 contractual year with the intent of encouraging educational aides to become certified teachers. Service must be recorded on the teacher service record or similar form. Any service as an aide prior to the 2004–2005 contractual year can’t be counted.
Beginning with the 1998–1999 school year, creditable experience also must be given to a substitute teacher with a valid Texas teaching certificate or valid teaching certificate in the state where the substitute service occurred as long as the number of days worked in a school year meet the service requirements.
And, beginning with the 1982–1983 school year, certified Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers are entitled to up to two years of work experience for salary increment purposes if the work experience is required for the CTE certification.
Q: Are state sick and personal leave days transferrable, and how many days can an employee gain in one year?
A: The service record also serves as a tracking record for both the state’s sick and personal leave program data for all personnel. State sick and personal leave accumulated in Texas public elementary and secondary schools are transferable among these schools. State personal leave accrued by an ESC employee and state sick and personal leave accrued by an employee of Harris County Department of Education and Dallas County Schools are transferable to Texas public elementary and secondary schools.
An employee cannot accumulate more than five state days of leave per year, even if they change employers. If an employee separates from employment from a district or charter school before the last duty day of the school year or begins employment after the first duty day of the school year, state personal leave can be prorated based on the actual time employed. Because state leave must be allocated at the start of the school year, it is possible for an employee to use their allocated leave prior to resigning midyear. A district should denote leave allocated and used on the service record resulting in a zero-leave balance in the receiving district.
The service record should identify the number of accumulated state days. If an employee is paid upon separation from an employing district for accrued state personal leave, it should be reflected on the service record. Any state days used to purchase years of service with the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) for retirement purposes must be deducted from the balance on the service record.
Q: Who is responsible for correcting service record errors?
A: An employee should verify the accuracy of their service record when moving from one entity to another. A receiving entity may, in some circumstances, identify discrepancies in an employee’s service. It is the responsibility of the issuing school district or charter school to ensure service records are true and correct, therefore any discrepancies identified should be corrected by the entity where the service was earned.
Q: What if there is an error in pay based on the teacher service record?
A: The commissioner has ruled a district must correct the pay and provide backpay to the teacher for the current year plus three prior years (Mata v. United Indep. Sch. Dist., Tex. Comm’r of Educ. Decision No. 016-R10-1099 (Sept. 5, 2000)). A teacher is only entitled to recover four years of back pay because a four-year statute of limitations period applies to contract claims (Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.004).
Additional information is available in the HR Services’ webinar Service Record Management and on TEA’s Teacher Salary and Service Information page.
Cheryl Hoover is an HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Cheryl an email at email@example.com.
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