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NEA may do job compensation study

January 05, 2000|By BRUCE HAMILTON

After spending $35,000 on a job compensation study, the Washington County Board of Education might now commission a free study proposed a year ago.

The School Board put out a bid for a reclassification study of its 935 education support personnel workers in 1998. The National Education Association responded Jan. 26, 1999, with an offer to do the job for free.

The board chose a Washington consulting firm instead, commissioning a study in March from Hendrickson & Associates Inc. for $35,000. Charles Hendrickson delivered his final report Nov. 22.

Upon reading it, union representatives said the study was little more than a copy of other reports the firm wrote for other clients. Contacted last month, Hendrickson declined to comment.

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Bonnie Parks, president of Educational Support Personnel Local No. 1, detailed her criticisms of the study to the board during a work session Tuesday. The NEA study was the union's first choice and would offer greater equity, she said.

The Hendrickson proposal would mostly benefit men and those who don't work with children, according to Parks.

"For those who are most directly responsible for the success of children, this study does virtually nothing," she said.

It is flawed because it compares the school system to private enterprise, according to Parks. School workers' compensation should be "head and shoulders above local industry," she said.

School-based staff advancement in the proposal is in name only, according to Parks. It would give a total of $45,000 in raises to 4.1 percent of the union's employees, excluding workers such as custodians, bus drivers, food service workers and clerks.

The study was supposed to take three months and the firm began work in April 1999, she said.

It's been nine months and the board and union have not received new job descriptions.

"We have never been contacted," she said. The bid suggested union representatives would be updated in a newsletter. "That didn't happen," she said. "We felt we couldn't raise questions because we received no information along the way."

The union found other reports the firm wrote that Parks called nearly identical.

Parks said the entire package was designed as a cost-saving mechanism. "Once again, it's going to be borne on the backs of the support personnel," she said.

She asked the School Board to get an NEA study for comparison.

"I think these are valid concerns they've brought to us," said School Board member Doris J. Nipps.

Members B. Marie Byers and Herbert Hardin said they favor hearing the NEA's presentation and others agreed.

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