The Board of Education on Feb. 27, 2017, held a town hall for support staff. About 20 employees participated in the discussion. The following are the top issues presented at the Support Staff Town Hall as summarized by John Groat, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Board Chairman Michael Lukas at the end of the meeting.

Top issues (noted in bold type) at the Support Staff Town Hall include:

Lack of COLA for support staff - Many long-time staff members have not had a raise since 2009 since they are ineligible for STEP and Scale increases, and they have not received a COLA.

  • Support staff on level 30 and above who were not eligible for a step and/or grade increase received a 1 percent COLA in 2015-16. Additionally, all employees received a $1,000 stipend in 2014-15.
  • In FY 2014, classified employees on steps 16 and above received a $300 one-time salary adjustment.
  • In FY 2013, employees not eligible for a STEP received a one-time payment of $1,000 and employees on STEP 16 and above received a 2 percent COLA.
  • In FY 2012, classified employees not eligible for a STEP received a one-time payment of $1,000.

Pay scale – Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) has the lowest pay scale for classified staff in the state.

  • On a statewide level (24 districts), based on average hourly rates, CCPS ranks eighth for food service manager and food service worker salaries, while building service workers ranked ninth.
  • Based on the Maryland Negotiation Service (MNS), CCPS building service workers have the fourth highest earning potential in the state.
  • CCPS maintenance staff average hourly wage when compared to the Charles County prevailing wages rates in similar job functions, is $28.26 to $30.82 respectively.
  • On a regional basis, CCPS ranks second (of three counties) for the positions referenced above. When compared with Maryland school districts of similar size, CCPS ranks first for food and building service workers and second for cafeteria managers.

Sick leave – Support staff went from 3.4 hours of sick leave per pay to 2.8 hours per pay period.

  • CCPS fiscal services staff regularly performs internal audits to ensure compliance with fiscal policies, employee contacts and payroll. During one of these audits, it was discovered that 10-month support employees were being paid more sick leave than they earn based on the number of months they work. Support staff, under the AFSCME contract, earn sick leave at the rate of one day for each month of completed service, to be accrued bi-weekly. Ten-month employees were receiving 3.4 hours of sick leave bi-weekly, which was higher than the amount accrued. In fiscal year 2015, the hours were reduced to 2.8 per pay period to correct the overpayment and to allot 10-month support staff with the correct amount of sick leave per the negotiated agreement. None of the accrued excess leave was taken from the employees.

Substitute program – Staff voiced numerous complaints about media center, special education and kindergarten instructional assistants (IAs) constantly being pulled to substitute as teachers in classrooms. They are not paid a teacher’s salary and their work piles up when they are filling in regularly in other areas.

  • CCPS has more than 800 active substitutes in the system. Last-minute call outs and hard-to-fill positions (i.e., special education, math, science, etc.) are the largest reasons for substitute shortages in schools. When building administrators are unable to fill positions, they must use all available resources, including reassignment of staff.
  • Human Resources is researching historical data, including use of subs and positions left vacant, to determine criteria for possibly providing permanent subs at some locations.
  • Differential pay associated with providing substitute coverage is a mandatory subject of negotiations and can be addressed through the collective bargaining process.

Secretarial – Elementary schools need a third secretary in the office. The work is too much for two people. The daily distractions of answering the phone, opening the door, and parent and student issues keep secretaries from being able to keep up with registrations and other daily work

  • Requests and supporting documentation for additional staff are submitted via the Applitrack system and are reviewed by a staffing committee in order to ensure equity among the schools/departments.
  • Superintendent Kimberly Hill has formed a committee to review the elementary school secretary suggestions and to present recommendations.

Food service – Many food service personnel are required to perform the duties of financial secretaries but don’t receive the same pay as financial secretaries. Please check on the disparity of pay between financial secretaries and food service personnel who are required to do accounting work.

  • A process exists for CCPS employees to request a reclassification of their salary placement based on job duties and responsibilities. Such a review was recently completed for certain food service positions and reviewers determined that a reclassification was not justified. While some of the job responsibilities were similar to those of a financial secretary, the food service job responsibilities are not equivalent nor do they exceed those required of a financial secretary.
  • The average salary for food service accounting assistants is $26.15, which is above the 80th percentile when compared to 12-month financial secretaries’ hourly wages. The average hourly wage for 12-month secretaries is $21.64.

Classes and reimbursement – Some employees indicated they are not getting reimbursed for required training and not eligible for tuition reimbursement because they take non-credit courses. Additionally, some people receive repayment for classes and tests while others do not.

  • Article 22 of the collective bargaining agreement between AFSCME and the Board of Education does allow for reimbursement of job-related coursework. Whenever possible, CCPS works with the service provider to arrange direct-billing so that employees do not have to pay for coursework up front. Article 22 states: Unit members shall be reimbursed for college credit at the rate of up to $2,225.00 per year or the actual tuition cost, whichever is less. Specialized training will be reimbursed at an equivalent rate of one semester hour per 14 hours of classroom instruction. The courses must be in a job-related area and have the approval of the Superintendent or his or her designated agent prior to enrollment in the course.
  • If you have paid for a work-related class and did not receive reimbursement, please contact Human Resources for a review.

Recruitment — Where does CCPS recruit? Why are there so few minority employees and teachers?

  • In 2015-16 CCPS attended 42 college/university job fairs in 15 states (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and West Virginia). 29.4 percent of new teachers hired for 2016-17 are teachers of color. Documents, containing the Human Resources Office annual staffing presentation to the Board of Education, are posted on this page.
  • Last school year, CCPS recruited at the following Historically Black Colleges and Universities:
    • Alabama State University
    • Hampton University
    • Howard University
    • University of Maryland Eastern Shore
    • Morgan State University
  • CCPS’ teacher workforce is 24 percent minority, higher than the national average of 17 percent.
    • Teachers – Teachers need more sensitivity and diversity training.
  • All CCPS employees receive diversity awareness training on an annual basis.