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Schools consider pay changes

November 22, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

A proposal to change the titles and pay grades of one-fourth of the Washington County Board of Education's support personnel is in the hands of board members, who said they will make a decision on the recommendation in 60 days.

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The proposal would increase the number of salary grades from 15 to 16 and expand each salary range by at least $3,700 and as much as $14,600. It would eliminate step increases for longevity and base raises on a different scale.

The proposal moves more than 30 job titles to higher salary grades and drops at least six titles down. Human Resources Director Phil Ray said last week he had not analyzed the proposal for raises or paycuts.

"This is a new concept for the school system. It's a market-based system," said Charles Hendricks, whose firm conducted the study. "It allows the Board of Education to decide how much they can afford."

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The School Board in March commissioned the reclassification study of its Educational Support Personnel, a group of about 935 that generally includes all workers but teachers and administrators.

The union representing the group negotiated a two-year agreement on wages and compensation. It is set to expire after the 2000-2001 school year. ESP Local No. 1 President Bonnie Parks said she had not yet fully analyzed the study.

"I'll be looking for the fairness," she said.

The union's board met Monday night to discuss the proposal. Parks said members will compare it to the last study.

The study was intended to examine the functions of each employee, revise job descriptions and put everyone in an appropriate grading system. It included a survey comparing the jobs to similar ones in the private sector and other school systems.

The work began in April and the firm's representatives interviewed 150 support workers. Board member B. Marie Byers asked how much input employees had.

"The involvement was really at the outset," Hendricks said. "We did get input early on but the results are ours."

A $45,000 initial expense would implement the proposal, according to Hendricks.

Under the proposal, job titles would be changed to more accurately reflect the work performed. Secretaries now perform high-tech duties such as using spreadsheets. The title "Administrative Secretary" would become "Administrative Office Associate."

Hendricks said salary ranges need adjusting further up the scale. "You're paying competitively at the lower ranges and start to fall behind at the higher grades," he said.

Raises would be computed based on how the employee's salary compares to the midpoint of his or her range. The furthest below it would get the greatest percentage increase while those above it would get smaller ones.

The School Board decided to wait two months to get feedback before making a decision. "We really haven't had a chance to read this ourselves," said Byers.

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