FLSA Final Rule Changes Salary Threshold

FLSA Final Rule Changes Salary Threshold

In April 2024, The Department of Labor (DOL) announced a Final Rule increasing the threshold level salary minimum for the “salary test”.  (See the DOL document entitled Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales, and Computer Employees).

Generally, under the FLSA, employees are exempt from minimum wage and overtime protections if they are employed in an executive, administrative, or professional capacity (EAP) and meet three tests set out by the department which include payment of a specified weekly salary level and performing executive, administrative, or professional duties.

The new rule takes effect on July 1, 2024. On that date, the new salary amount threshold for a nonteaching, salaried supervisor or administrator increases to $844 week/$43,888 annual salary (up from $684 week/$35,568/annual salary.)

Then, in January 2025, the method used to calculate the salary will change again- and the amounts will increase a second time to $1,128week/ $58,656 annual salary.  After that, the salary threshold will be raised every three years after July 1, 2027. 

Whether an employee can be exempted from the payment of overtime by meeting the EAP exception depends upon meeting the “salary and duties tests” set out by the Department of Labor in the law. 

To be eligible for the exemption, the employee 1.) must earn a fixed salary, 2.) that salary is at least equal to the amount in the Final Rule, and 3.) that the employee performs functions that meet the executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined by the DOL. 

The salary amount will increase twice- on July 1, 2024, and then again in January 2025.  Due to that increase, some nonteaching administrative employees’ salaries may likely be lower than the new salary threshold amount. 

The “duties” part of the test must then be applied to the employee’s job duties to determine whether a nonteaching administrator/supervisor is exempt from overtime requirements.

Administrative employees will meet the duties test if they primarily perform office or non-manual work directly related to the operations of the school district.  Their duties must involve the exercise of discretion and independent judgment on matters of significance.

Executive employees are also eligible for the exemption. To meet the “duties test” for these employees means that their primary duty must be managing a particular department or division of school operations.  They must regularly direct the work of at least two full-time (or their equivalent) employees and must have the authority to hire and fire, or have their recommendations for promotion, termination, hiring, or other actions given particular weight.

Teachers are specifically exempt from the FLSA overtime rules as professionals, so this rule change will not affect certificated administrators. 

For highly compensated employees subject to the FLSA, the salary threshold is going up to $132,964 on July 1, 2024, and then up to $151.164.  It is likely some employees formerly covered by this exception may no longer meet the salary threshold.   Even if those employees still meet the requirements for exemption under the highly compensated employee test, the salary threshold to be eligible for the exemption must be met.  If this is no longer the case due to the increases planned to the salary threshold, it is well possible these employees could qualify using the EAP exception. 

Actions to take now:

Survey the salaries of nonteaching administrative employees to determine if any might fall below the new salary thresholds.  Employees that may be affected by this change include supervisors and directors such as technology directors, transportation and cafeteria supervisors, facilities managers, and other similar positions.

If the new salary threshold exceeds a nonteaching administrative employee’s current annual salary, school districts may need to adjust upwards or recognize these employees are eligible for overtime pay.  This means the employees would need to keep track of their time.  Consult with Ennis Britton to review specific situations. 















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Career Tech Corner: Pre-employment Drug Tests and Recreational Marijuana

Career Tech Corner: Pre-employment Drug Tests and Recreational Marijuana


Last year in Ohio, recreational marijuana was authorized by initiative petition.  The state is still in the process of creating a regulatory process that will allow marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana in addition to medical marijuana.  This is currently predicted to be rolled out in fall 2024. 

 Does your CTC have a pre-employment drug testing policy?  CTC education, occurring in lab and sometimes offsite environments differs in many respects from traditional school districts.  This includes unique risks regularly encountered in lab programs.  Due to some of those unique risks, which include operating heavy equipment, managing volatile compounds, working with sharp objects, and much more, ensuring safety for staff and students is paramount. 

 The law on medical marijuana reinforces an Ohio employer’s right to prohibit the use of marijuana and require a drug-free workplace.  None of the language enacted with the medical marijuana law has changed at this point as it relates to the recreational sale of marijuana. 

 Marijuana is still a Schedule I prohibited substance at the federal level, but there is reason to believe this may change in the near future.  In August 2023, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended that marijuana be reclassified from a Schedule I prohibited substance to Schedule III.  This was taken under advisement by the Drug and Alcohol Enforcement Agency (DEA).   In January 2024, a group of senators petitioned the Biden administration to remove it as a scheduled substance altogether.  While this seems unlikely, it is possible that a change in how marijuana is classified at the federal level could happen in the near future.  Changing the schedule of marijuana would affect interstate commerce, and production, and may affect how employers may enforce workplace rules.

 In order to ensure that potential CTC employees are able to effectively supervise, use, and teach career-technical programming involving labs and heavy equipment, they must not be under the influence of prohibited substances.  Pre-employment drug testing sends a message of the expectations of the employer and provides an initial assurance that the employee is not a current user of prohibited substances.  It may result in some self-selection as candidates may not apply if they are recreational or medical users of marijuana.

 There are some special considerations and inherent risks for career technical education in terms of labs and programs offered, and as such, may merit consideration of a pre-employment drug testing policy.  Contact the EB CTC practice team if you would like to discuss this.







































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Career Tech Corner: It’s a New Year! Time for the CTC Organizational Meeting

Career Tech Corner: It’s a New Year! Time for the CTC Organizational Meeting


Career technical boards of education are governed by the same statute on holding the organizational meeting in January as any other board of education, but the operation and timing of CTC organizational meetings is slightly different than local, exempted village, and city school districts.

The Ohio Revised Code states simply that career technical school districts must meet during the month of January (R.C. 3313.14). In practical terms, that directive is subject to ensuring that the career-technical meeting is held after the local and exempted village boards of education meet as the boards are swearing in new members and sometimes, depending on expiring terms of office, appointing seats to the career technical board of education.

Before being appointed to the CTC board, local and exempted village board members are reminded that they may not nominate or vote for themselves when it comes to appointment to the career technical board. This is because there is a monetary benefit associated with doing so, and the Ohio Ethics Commission has issued an informal opinion on this issue.

The law on appointments to a CTC school board provides for three-year terms of office, with the member boards of education making appointments at their organizational meetings to the CTC board, if there is a need for a new appointment. Appointments may be board members on the local member board or may be someone “who has experience or knowledge regarding the labor needs of the state and region with an understanding of the skills, training, and education needed for current and future employment opportunities in the state.” (R.C. 3311.19) Preference may be given to individuals who have served as members on a joint vocational school business advisory committee.

For the appointment to the career technical board, an affirmative vote of a majority of the full board is required. Terms of office for these appointments are usually for three (3) years, except when CTC member districts are even-numbered and the plan filed with ODE provides for a additional member to be appointed from the member districts on a rotating basis. Those additional rotating member’s terms are for one year. The CTC plan filed with the Ohio Department of Education will control on this issue.

New board members should receive a copy of the CTC plan document. The organizational meeting is a good time to refresh everyone on any particular provisions of the CTC plan with regard to appointing vacancies or other governance issues as part of onboarding training.

Once the organizational meeting convenes, the CTC board must do the actual organizational business of electing a president and vice-president of the board. Here, members may nominate (and vote for) themselves as they are already appointed to the CTC board.

A second is not required on a motion to nominate someone for board president or vice-president unless the district has a local rule requiring it. Seconding a motion to nominate someone is sometimes done ceremonially as well, but it is not required. The votes to appoint a president and vice-president require an affirmative votes of a majority of the full board, so it may necessary to caucus until such a majority may be obtained.

Questions have arisen regarding a situation when a CTC board member who is appointed from the local board loses their local board of education election, and whether those members may continue in their terms. Generally, once the appointment is made, that member may continue on in their three-year term of office on the CTC.

Other organizational business includes setting regular meetings for the year. All meetings set at the organizational meeting are regular meetings of the board, and there may be more than one regular meeting a month. Board of education are required to meet only once every two months by law. (R.C. 3313.15). CTC boards may also utilize special and emergency meetings.

If you have questions about the organizational meeting, its regular business, appointments or the Sunshine law and how it applies to your CTC, please contact your EB counsel.










































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Keeping Transportation Between the Dotted Lines

Keeping Transportation Between the Dotted Lines


School transportation is a significant part of every district’s services, but also has the potential to become a major source of trouble when we lose focus on the details, including regulations and requirements. That can result in the bus(es) drifting out of their lanes and heading for a significant crash! And now, to make it more difficult, it seems that lawmakers and state agencies are making the lanes narrower and paying more attention to our mistakes than our successes. Should we be worried? And if so, about what?

To set the stage for answering these questions, ask yourself the following:
• Do you have an experienced transportation administrator who is now spending more time driving a bus to cover missing drivers than overseeing the transportation operation?
• Do you have a new transportation administrator who is a great manager, but who has no background in school transportation?
• Are you new as a superintendent in a district, and do not yet have a good sense of how efficiently and/or effectively the transportation department is operating, and if it is following all the rules (including the new ones)?
• Has transportation been a quiet department in your district, and do you subscribe to the theory that if it’s not been a problem, don’t poke the bear?

What could possibly go wrong? We can look at a few of the more common issues that arise.

Shortage of drivers: On the face of it, we could easily say this is an HR problem, and recruiting has fallen behind the needs of the district. Driver recruitment should be an ongoing process. However, when the transportation director is busy driving and managing day-to-day operations, he/she has little time to work with HR to develop effective a recruiting campaign. It is easy to get behind the curve and end up short-staffed. To complicate matters, requirements for driver qualifications and training are formidable. There are many hours of training and classes, background checks, drug and alcohol checks, driving record checks, medical qualifications, commercial driver licensing and extensive state and federal oversight. Even when you find the right driver candidates, you have to make certain they satisfy all the qualifications and allow them to drive a bus only after you have satisfied the state regulators that your “ready and willing” candidates have met all the qualifications. Just putting someone behind the wheel because you need a driver, without having met state requirements, is not a solution.

Buses and vans: Sounds simple . . . run a vehicle until it wears out, then buy a new one to replace it. Whether it is a bus or a van, the same practice should work just fine. After all, that has worked just fine for our personal vehicles for decades.
Focusing on just buses for a moment, how do we really know when a bus is at the end of its serviceable life? There comes a point where it is more costly to repair a vehicle than to replace it. Did you also know the state patrol inspects school buses twice every year, and ultimately decides if you are allowed to use it or not? They may place a perfectly sound bus out-of-service for an inspection failure, or they may tell you that they will no longer inspect or pass a bus due to age and condition. To complicate this further, to purchase a new bus you are required to comply with state bidding procedures, purchase only vehicles that meet state and federal requirements, and place an order with a dealer that may not be filled for 18-24 months.

With vans, it should be easier, but many will tell you it is equally as complicated. There are state and federal regulations that limit options for passenger occupancy in vehicles other than school buses. If you go to the car dealer and ask for a passenger vehicle (van) for pupil transportation, they will jump at the opportunity and sell you anything with seats in it. For the most part, dealers are ignorant of the federal and state regulations on vehicle size and seating. Sometimes we have other staff in the district that mean well . . . and go out and purchase a vehicle only to find out afterwards that the vehicle is not legal for pupil transportation.

Compliance regulations: In recent years the state (both legislators and state agencies) has adopted a firmer stance with regard to compliance with regulations. This also comes at a time when new regulations are being enacted and the lanes we drive in, so to speak, are getting narrower. Some of the regulations have been in place for decades and were enacted with pupil safety as a goal. Other regulations have been adopted to correct perceived slights and inequalities in the actual services being provided. The fact of the matter is that most regulations require more resources, at a time when the availability of drivers and buses is lower than ever.

What is an administrator to do?

District administrators and school boards have many responsibilities and obligations. Having an in-depth knowledge of everything within their scope of oversight is not practical. We rely on other staff in the chain of command to keep the district off thin ice and fully compliant in all areas of school district operations. That said, when you are trying to do more with less, it is easy to overlook something.
The starting point to moving forward is an accurate assessment of what you currently have in place. You can do this yourself, hoping that you know all the regulations and best practices, or you can engage an objective, experienced transportation professional. Ennis Britton Consulting Group has a tool to provide you with this assistance. Transportation Consultant Pete Japikse has developed a ‘transportation health check” based on over 40 years of experience and knowledge of rules, regulations and best practices in transportation. This health check looks at all aspects of your transportation operation. The outcome of this transportation health check is a report identifying the areas where the District is doing well, areas where attention should be focused, and areas where transportation operations may be “getting by” but improvements may be needed. This management tool will provide you with concrete and specific input, enabling you to develop a roadmap to success, and to stay inside of the lanes as you move forward.


































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Keeping Transportation Between the Dotted Lines

Plan For Payment In Lieu of Transportation

Successful transportation programs have had to adjust their timelines for declaring transportation impractical and offering payment in lieu of transportation (PILOT) due to new statutory deadlines and processes enacted in 2021. Here are some reminders about those deadlines and practical tips on preparing for timely and effective PILOT determinations. A cost-efficient and legally compliant transportation program is a key component of district operations, especially with financial penalties for noncompliance.

Route Plans
Have the nonpublic and community schools in your district declared their start and end times by April 1? That’s a new deadline. If they have done so, the district’s obligation is to develop a transportation plan for those students in 60 days; i.e., June 1. This is much sooner than districts usually do routing.

If those schools have not yet done so, it is to a district’s benefit, as it plans routes for next year, to request that information, along with student rider names and addresses. Once provided, the district must attempt to respond with the transportation plan by August 1. It is in the district’s interest to get this information quickly so that routing can incorporate these students.

Impracticality Determinations
Districts must determine impracticality of transportation 30 days before school begins. This means most families must be notified by mid-July. Determining whether the costs of transportation for nonpublic or community school students are disproportionate must be made on a case-by-case basis. Districts must also consider the other factors for this determination outlined in R.C. 3327.02. Researching each factor and documenting the results will protect the district.

The Superintendent may make the determination after considering all the statutory factors, with the Board approving the same at its next scheduled Board meeting. A letter detailing the reasons supporting the determination of impracticality must be sent to the parents, the State Board, and the community/nonpublic school.

The Board may then offer payment in lieu of transportation (PILOT) to the parents by sending them the resolution, the reasons transportation was declared impractical, notice that the parent may accept or reject the offer and request mediation with ODE, and a contract for the parents to sign if they accept.

Attention to ensuring this process is well underway now is time well spent, with the goal of being ready to make decisions in July. Failure to do so risks missing deadlines, which could result in transporting students the entire year.

Values for payment in lieu of transportation for 2023-24 already have been announced by ODE- a minimum amount of $596.43 and maximum of $1,192.87.