A sizeable increase in the state minimum salary schedule was triggered by the basic allotment increase in funding by House Bill (HB) 3 of the 86th Legislature.
These significant changes to the minimum salary schedule heightened the importance of accurate creditable years of service calculations. School districts are required to pay all classroom teachers, full-time counselors, full-time librarians, and full-time nurses at least the state base salary for their creditable years of experience.
The Commissioner’s Rules on Creditable Years of Service, Title 19, Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §153.1021, serve as a baseline for minimum requirements when determining an individual’s years of experience. A district may recognize additional years beyond those required in the Commissioner’s Rules. Often a school district will credit Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher experience beyond the minimum requirement.
Creditable service tracking
The teacher service record (FIN-115) or a similar form containing the same information is the official document used to record years of service claimed for salary increment purposes. The service record must be validated by a person designated by the school district or charter school to sign service records.
The service record must be kept on file at the school district or charter school and shall be given to the employee or the next employing school district or charter school upon request following termination of employment. According to Texas Education Code (TEC) §21.4031, a school district must provide the copy no later than the 30th day after the later of the date the request is made or the date of the last day of the individual’s service to the district. A school district must maintain a copy of the record 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.
Service record errors
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 documenting service.
Calculating creditable service
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. However, the requirements have remained the same since 1998.
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.
Determining creditable service entities
To determine if a new employee’s prior experience qualifies as a creditable year of service, school districts should use the list of 18 entities found in 19 TAC §153.1021(g). What constitutes a creditable year of service differs per entity, so reviewing the Commissioner’s Rules is best practice. Some of the more common requirements are outlined below:
- Texas public elementary and secondary school professional personnel must hold the proper license or meet the educational requirements of the position assigned. ROTC instructors must be certified or hold an emergency teaching permit renewed annually.
- Texas charter school educators are not required to be certified unless serving in a special education or bilingual assignment.
- Regional education service center (ESC) staff employed in cooperatives where the service center is acting as a fiscal agency must meet the same requirements as staff employed in Texas public schools.
- Public or private colleges and universities must be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. TEA provides a college verification form available to school personnel to establish salary placement.
- Staff with service in public schools in all other states and territories of the United States must be employed full-time if experience is prior to 1990–1991.
- Overseas schools operated by the U.S. government for military dependents and dependents of personnel assigned to an embassy, consulate, etc., are treated as public schools in other states of the U.S., and the same policies apply.
Additional requirements can be found at 19 TAC §153.1021(h).
Creditable service for other positions
Creditable experience must be given to paraprofessionals transitioning into a teaching role, certified substitute teachers, and CTE teachers with outside work experience. Below is a summary for each group.
- Paraprofessional creditable service: beginning in 2005 up to two years of full-time equivalency for placement on the minimum salary schedule (See HRX post Creditable Experience for Paraprofessionals Transitioning to a Teaching Role)
- Substitute teacher creditable service: beginning with the 1998–1999 school year, a substitute teacher with a valid Texas teaching certificate or valid teaching certificate from the state where substitute service occurred, so long as the number of days worked in a school year meet the service requirements
- CTE teacher creditable service: beginning with the 1982–1983 school year, certified CTE teachers may count up to two years of work experience for salary increment purposes if the work experience is required for the CTE certification (See HRX post Salary Placement for Career and Technical Education Teachers)
State sick and personal leave
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 leave and state 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.
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.
The Teacher Salary and Service Information page on the TEA website provides resources for teacher salary and service record information. If additional information is needed, educational entities may contact Maria Brunetti at email@example.com.
Karen Dooley is a senior HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Karen an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erin Kolecki is a compensation and HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Erin an email at email@example.com.
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