The Classified Personnel Policy Committee met in Conference Room B of the Central Office at 1 p.m. on March 11, 2014. In attendance were Keith Cooper, John Sparks, Julie Welfel, Bill Goff, Becky Del Rio, Clint Walker, Derek Scott, Charles Blake and Loria Bryant. February 11, 2014 minutes were reviewed, revised and approved.
John Sparks opened the meeting and asked Bill Goff to address the responses from Dr. Guess to the list of concerns from employees presented by Loria at the February 11th meeting. Felecia Dickey will be contacted for the electronic version of the questions and answers to the questions presented by Loria Bryant to be included with these minutes. The following section is the electronic version of the responses by Dr. Guess:
Questions and Concerns from PCSSD Classified Employees
- What can be done about employees bullying in the work place? The personnel policy titled “Disciplinary Action Policy” in the fourth paragraph states: “Apart from specific rules, the obligation of each employee to conduct himself/herself in relation to his/her employment in a manner which respects the persons, property, and dignity of others is recognized.” This policy describes the forms of employee discipline that may be applied if there is “just cause”. Employees who are guilty of “bullying” are failing to respect the persons, property and dignity of others and therefore would be disciplined in accordance with this policy. An employee who experiences or witnesses bullying should report it to their immediate supervisor. If the immediate supervisor is the one bullying, then it should be reported to the next level of authority.
- Some employees would like for their checks to stop being prorated. Several years ago employees voted by groups whether or not they wanted their paychecks prorated or not. The decision of the majority was honored for each group. The effect of being prorated is that a consistent check amount is given every two weeks, regardless of the actual days worked during that pay period. Of course to do this requires that pay be withheld during the pay periods that include ten full work days. The district’s payroll department believes it will be possible to make this an individual decision rather than a group decision and will develop agreements that spell out all of the ramifications employees should be aware of before making the decision. Some of the ramifications may include employees having to submit checks to the district for insurance deductions if monthly earnings are not sufficient to cover the payroll deduction. The administration will strive to have a final decision announced before the end of this school year so it can apply at the beginning of next school year.
- Why are PCSSD classified employees having to use a time clock to clock in and certified and state employees don’t? The personnel policy titled “Overtime, Compensatory Time, and Complying with FLSA” includes a lot of good information that may answer this question. In summary, the district is required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to accurately account for the hours worked by all covered or non-exempt employees. When the district revised classified salary schedules it grouped all employees covered by the FLSA on the hourly rate salary schedules and all exempt employees on the daily rate schedule. Although the law does not require the use of time clocks, the district believed its use would improve the accuracy of the required records and also improve the efficiency of the payroll process. All certified positions are exempt from FLSA. Exempt employees are paid a salary to accomplish a job and that salary is not required to vary based on the hours worked. Therefore there is no legal requirement that a record of time worked by exempt employees be maintained. The state has a mixture of covered and exempt employees and also must comply with the record-keeping requirements of the FLSA.
- Is there any chance of getting back our staff development money? The administration has no plans to recommend a program comparable to the previous “Professional Growth Supplemental Salary Program.” The elimination of this program was one of the cost-cutting strategies necessary due to the district’s Fiscal Distress classification by the State Board of Education. The district has not yet been removed from this classification and must now also plan for the elimination of $20.8M of state desegregation revenue and the likely detachment of the Jacksonville area. Therefore the administration does not believe it would be prudent to recommend to the Arkansas Department of Education that we add back this cost.
- Reclassify support staff so we can get paid according to our duties. Not paid the same as all paraprofessionals. The intent of the salary schedule ranges is to compensate based on the qualifications and skills required for each job. Supply and demand for specific skill sets could also influence the salary of various positions. If an employee is concerned that his or her salary range is inappropriate, they should raise the issue with their immediate supervisor and provide whatever supporting documentation they may have.
- Can we get our staff development checks and severance pay back? Same answer as number four above.
- Does the PCSSD board plan on giving a cost of living raise any time soon to district employees? This school year the administration recognized the need to increase salaries for all personnel. It had been two years since there had been an across the board increase to salary schedules and health insurance premiums were increasing significantly. In exploring options, it was decided the one-time bonus would provide additional compensation to all employees and, due to it being a non-recurring cost, more fiscally conservative than permanently increasing salary schedules. The need to provide additional compensation to employees will continue and the administration will continue to explore options. Although the experience step increases are not considered “cost-of-living” adjustments, it should be understood that the new “26-step” salary schedules for classified personnel will provide step increases for 1236 of 1270 (97%) of classified employees. Those 1236 employees will receive step increases ranging from 4.44% to 1.05% (average of 2.67%).
- Will the cost of medical insurance for district employees go down any at all? Not likely any time soon. The district has no option other than offer employees the health insurance provided by the state. The state insurance program continues to pay out more in claims than it receives in premiums and the only way to combat that is to raise premiums or decrease benefits—or both. Therefore school district employees throughout the state will likely be seeing changes to the insurance products in the form of increased deductibles and co-pays and also increased premiums. More and more employees are moving to the high-deductible Bronze Plan. After state and school district contributions, the Bronze “Employee-only and Employee & Children” plans currently have zero cost to the employee and relatively low cost for “Employee & Spouse and Employee & Family”. However, the Bronze Plan does require the employee to pay more out-of-pocket medical costs than do the Gold and Silver plans.
- Is the dress code policy set by the district or by the school? The registrar and I wore jeans on an inclement weather day and we both got written up. I just would like to know. The personnel policy titled “Staff Dress Code” states: “The image Pulaski County Special School District projects to our students, parents, and the public is reflected in the professionalism of its employees. Appropriate attire is an important part of our image as educators and role-models. In order to maintain this standard of professionalism, PCSSD has adopted a dress code for its staff. The dress and grooming of District employees shall be clean, neat, appropriate for their assignments, and consistent with any additional standards established by school administrators and/or department directors and approved by the Superintendent.” Supervisors are responsible for determining what is and what is not: “clean, neat and appropriate for their assignments”. If they establish any additional criteria it must be approved by the Superintendent. Employees who disagree with a determination made by their supervisor may follow the steps found in the “Grievance Procedure” personnel policy.
- Can the section that states job openings have to be sent to principals on paper be revised? We are in the 20th century. All the principal would have to do is print one copy and post it. It would be nice to lessen the amount of paper used in this process. However, it will be necessary for the schools and other locations to print and post the job opening announcement anyway since not all employees have easy access to a computer. Therefore the same amount of paper will be used. Sending a hard copy to the principals may lessen the likelihood that it not be printed and posted at the school. Perhaps we should send an electronic version and a hard copy.
- Some of the bookkeepers feel that there should be a meeting scheduled every year in July when bookkeeper’s come back to work from Summer Break. Can this request be taken into consideration? This meeting is much needed. The administration agrees that a full-day meeting at the beginning of the school year for all bookkeepers would be beneficial and will attempt to comply with this request.
John Sparks moved that the Payroll Department be contacted to speak to the PPC regarding prorated checks and that type of implementation for the individuals that wish to have a prorated check. Keith Cooper seconded the motion. Motion passed.
Becky Del Rio submitted a copy of the Senate Bill 953 regarding the prohibiting of the use of e-cigarettes on public school property. Bill Goff moved that to comply with state law the words “and the use of e-cigarettes” be added to the Classified PPC Manual section of “Tobacco Use”. Keith Cooper seconded the motion.
Smoking is prohibited in all District buildings, property, and District-owned vehicles. For purposes of this policy, “smoking” will mean all uses of tobacco, including cigars, cigarettes, pipes and tobacco products and the use of e-cigarettes.
Motion passed, but with reservations voiced by Derek Scott.
Keith Cooper and Becky Del Rio brought up concerns presented by employees regarding the issue of bringing total years of relevant job experience to newly hired positions. Discussion included the consideration of the current guidelines of the Compensation and Contracts. Keith moved that regarding placement on the Salary Schedule, all newly hired, transferred, or promoted employees will be limited to 15 years. Becky Del Rio seconded the motion. Motion will be tabled for further investigation and discussion at the next meeting.
Bill Goff distributed information being considered by the certified PPC for our perusal. Salary schedule needs to be revised due to elimination of jobs and the change in job titles. Bill Goff distributed the proposed changes regarding reclassifications from Will Reid and Deb Roush. He asks the committee to review these.
The next meeting will be held on April 8th at 1 p.m. in Conference Room A of the Central Office. Meeting was adjourned at 3:10 p.m.
Becky Del Rio, Secretary
Minutes approved: 4/7/14