Sequim School Board discusses unrepresented employee salaries

SEQUIM — Sequim School Board members have tabled a new salary schedule for unrepresented district employees.

They also tabled Monday night the decision to submit an application by March 31 to hook up Greywolf Elementary School to the Carlsborg sewer system until they receive more information.

Clallam County has an incentivized hookup rate if the district agrees to submit an application by March 31. The incentivized rate would be $36,000 but that would grow to about $192,000 after that date.

The board is considering asking for a deadline extension.

Board members agreed they want more information on the process of creating the unrepresented salary schedule. They directed Superintendent Gary Neal to get more input from unrepresented employees before the schedule is approved.

Unrepresented employees hold positions such as campus security, district specialists, payroll and accounting clerks, human resources personnel, communications outreach coordinator, administrative assistants to the superintendent and assistant superintendent, and directors of technology, transportation, maintenance and learning support. These employees are not part of a union or bargaining group.

Dave Toman, who serves as campus security for the district, said during public comments that several unrepresented employees had no idea their salaries were being discussed.

Toman said later that he knew the board was discussing the salary schedule only after reading about it in the Peninsula Daily News.

“We want to be involved in negotiations,” Toman said in an interview. “We’re asking for fairness.”

At the Monday meeting, Toman asked board members during public comments, “to confer with us [unrepresented employees] to see what we think.”

Toman has been employed in the district for 18 years. He is a full-time employee paid by the hour.

In his comments to the board, he compared his salary schedule to that of a paraeducator with the same years of experience in the district and claimed paraeducators make about 80 cents more per hour.

The proposed salary schedule would pay Toman $23.91 per hour since he has more than 15 years of experience. However, he feels this does not accurately represent his 18 years of experience.

For Toman’s position, the starting pay is $22 per hour for entry level and ends at $24.91 per hour with 20-plus years of experience.

Neal said district officials met with some unrepresented employees regarding the salary schedule, but not all of them due to “bad timing” as meetings were made the same week as the power outage Clallam County experienced Dec. 14 and then just before winter break.

He said about nine unrepresented employees met with district officials. Fifteen positions are listed under unrepresented employees according to the 2019 schedule presented to the board.

Board member Robin Henrikson asked for clarity from the superintendent as to how the salary schedule was created.

“I have some questions around the process of how this was developed and the input that was given,” Henrikson said.

“This has been vetted out through demographic, from what our neighboring districts make, the private sector; it’s been vetted out,” Neal said.

There was some discussion about whether or not the draft presented to the board at the Monday meeting was the correct document. Neal said some positions listed in the document should not have been included, such as some of the director positions.

“Unrepresented [employees] are not part of any association,” Neal said. “They are not part of a bargaining group.”

Board president Brian Kuh also asked, “Does it make sense to discuss [the schedule] now or to have a presentation from our HR director to what’s being presented here?”

“I concur with Robin and the idea that we table this and hear from Randy,” said board member Heather Short.

Board member Brandino Gibson said: “It does seem a little confusing; there’s no explanation as to what this is,”

The board tabled the salary schedule to a future meeting, requested to meet with human resources director Randy Hill in executive session to discuss more bargaining information, and asked Neal to get input from the rest of the unrepresented employees.

In an interview Tuesday, Hill said he tried to redesign the format of the unrepresented salary schedule to match those of neighboring districts.

“Basically what you have is the old salary schedule for unrepresented to create a more streamlined approach,” he said.

Hill said he took a look at how neighboring districts formatted their unrepresented salary schedules, such as Port Angeles and North Kitsap School Districts.

“The idea was to increase salaries of course, that was the plan,” Hill said. “The formatting is different than what it was previously, that’s the difference.”

Unrepresented employees still receive a salary increase with years of experience but the current schedule lists the years of experience across a scale in “steps” in three- to five-year increments.

The pay scale for each positions starts at entry level, step 1 (three-plus years of experience) step 2 (five-plus years), step 3 (10-plus years), step 4 (15-plus years) and ends at step 5 (20-plus years).

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Erin Hawkins is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at ehawkins@sequimgazette.com.

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