Classified staff of Hays USD 489 will get a 4.6 percent raise this year after all.
An administrative mistake gave 112 employees that raise starting July 1 without approval from the school board. It wasn’t detected until the end of October, and in a special meeting Nov. 1, the board voted to end the raise until negotiations with the Hays chapter of the Kansas National Education Association were complete. An impasse had been declared, with the two sides in disagreement about the amount of the raise for the 2018-19 school year. The teachers’ group was holding out for the 4.6 percent that had been budgeted.
In a meeting with a federal mediator on Nov. 8, an agreement was reached that included a 3.7 percent raise.
Historically, the district has given classified and administrative staff the same raise it negotiates with teachers. Initially, that was the motion made Monday night by Greg Schwartz, but after lengthy discussion, that motion failed 1-5 with Schwartz the only vote in favor. Board member Lance Bickle was absent.
Luke Oborny then made a motion to raise classified staff pay by 4.6 percent and administrative staff pay by 3.7 percent. The vote was just the opposite — 5 to 1, with Schwartz the dissenter.
Schwartz said he wasn’t opposed to increasing the pay for the classified staff — which includes clerical staff, bus drivers, nutrition services and technology assistants — but he wants to see more facts about competitive wages in the community.
In his motion, he proposed establishing a committee to study that so the board can be better prepared for next year’s budget. It was one area the board agreed on, and Oborny included it in his motion as well. The committee will begin in January.
Oborny said Schwartz’s motion went against what the board wanted to do earlier this month.
“The only thing I have against that is we’re doing exactly what we said Nov. 1 that we said we didn’t want to do. We’re grouping all of our staff together with the same amount,” he said.
“I almost think we need to look at breaking them up separately. In my mind I’m looking at three groups. I’m looking at administration. I’m looking at our teachers, our certified staff, then our classified. They are three different positions, three different types of jobs. We can look at doing that next year again, but we’re just putting if off again,” he said.
“I think I agree that you’ve got to look at it that way, the problem is how are you going to do that tonight?” Schwartz said.
Schwartz went on to say he was not a fan of percentage raises but would rather see a pay range for each position and have the committee determine what that range would be based on what is competitive within the community.
“I agree with everything you’re saying,” Oborny said.
“I’d feel better if we were doing 3.7 percent with administrators and returning to the 4.6 for the rest of the classified staff, just because of how things were handled, how things went down,” he said.
Sophia Rose Young agreed the classified pay does need to be restructured.
“But without even getting data or facts, I can look at those wages on the board and know I could not live off of those at all. So I would actually be in favor of doing a 4.6 percent raise for those numbers,” she said.
District staff provided the board with limited data that included the 2018 entry level pay for classified staff in comparison to the community provided by Grow Hays from a report of 2017 wages from Ellis County, the City of Hays and Fort Hays State University.
According to that data, entry level pay this year for classified staff ranges from $8.64 an hour for assistant in after school care to $14.33 per hour for base kitchen managers and nutrition coordinators.
In some areas, the district is about equal with the Grow Hays data, but some are actually higher. A district library secretary, for example, would start at $10 per hour, while an equivalent job in the county starts at $9.41.
However, some wages are lower than the Grow Hays data, especially in administrative assistants and technology assistants. A district payroll administrative assistant’s starting wage is $12.05 an hour, while an equivalent job with Ellis County would be $15.03. Starting wage for an IT certified technician in USD 489 is $10.95, while the same job for Ellis County would start at $18.70 and include benefits.
Schwartz said the district needs to consider benefits to make a fair comparison, and does not currently have that data.
“Those are all very important factors to consider and we don’t have that information,” he said.