Trustees approve 'premium pay' for district staff

During a special meeting April 29th, the Longview ISD Board of Trustees added a provision to the district’s premium pay policy. 

Trustees approve 'premium pay' for district staff

Wed Apr 29, 2020

Longview Independent School District trustees approved three measures in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, during a special-called meeting Wednesday, April 29th.

Pay Policy Updated

Board members unanimously approved adding a provision to the district’s premium pay policy. Under the provision, non-exempt employees who are required to work during a disaster closing shall be paid at the rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked up to 40 hours per week.

You can download the resolution document here

Dr. James Hockenberry, Assistant Superintendent of District Services, said the provision allows Longview ISD to seek reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“In the event of a federal disaster, school districts can submit a request for reimbursement to FEMA, who then determines the eligibility of those requests for public assistance,” he said. “Typically for situations where people are continuing to come into work during the disaster.”

FEMA normally requires that a premium pay provision is in place before a federal disaster is declared to be reimbursed. Dr. Hockenberry said both the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Association of School Boards are suggesting that, due to the scope and magnitude of the pandemic, it could be waived.

Joey Jones, LISD Chief Financial Officer, said the district can be refunded from FEMA "up to 75 percent of the policy."

“It is actually for the whole period that we are not having active face-to-face instructional school,” he said.

Jones said that while "not all expenses will be covered by FEMA," other funding streams may be created through the CARES Act and other future funding allocations.

"We will take direction from the board and superintendent for authorization of pay," he said. "Also, we will apply for applicable reimbursement after their decision has been made final and funds are available to the district for reimbursement."

The TEA suggests districts track all costs related to COVID-19, including staff time, such as:

     •  Distance learning expenses, including purchasing electronic devices and communications infrastructure.
     •  Supplies for paper distance learning packets and delivery costs (where online learning is not feasible).
     •  Additional online learning and communication platform licenses.
     •  Expenses to continue food assistance program services.
     •  Communication and public information costs.
     •  Cleaning and sanitizing schools.
     •  Curriculum development.

LISD staffers with specific questions about how this new provision stands to impact their pay status are encouraged to first contact their campus administrators, and then the Longview ISD Human Resources department at 903-381-2200.

More COVID-19 Waivers

Trustees also unanimously approved the district submitting a waiver request to the TEA for Missed School Day/Instructional Continuity While Closed due to COVID-19 closures.

You can download the resolution document here

Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox told board members that TEA "requires all campuses to provide Instructional Continuity at Home services for all students during the duration of the closures for funding to continue without reduction."

"As a result, districts must make an application for the waiver, with the superintendent and trustees attesting that educational services were provided," he said.

Later, the board approved another waiver for appraisal of educators, principals, and administrators for the 2019-20 school year.

You can download the resolution document here

Dr. Hockenberry explained that campus closures began March 16th "and will continue through the end of the 2019-20 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic."

"This closure prevents appraisal requirements in state statute from being met," he said.

For more info

Trustees usually meet in the boardroom of the LISD Education Support Center, but often set special-called meetings at various locations around the district. The next regular meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. May 11th.

For more information about the Longview ISD Board of Trustees please click here