School board to study district employees' salaries

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comMarch 4, 2014 

STAFF ILLUSTRATION

  • In other action, the Beaufort County Board of Education:

    • Set March 24 as the make-up day for Jan. 29, when snow and ice was expected in the area.

The salaries of Beaufort County School District officials and administrators will soon come under scrutiny.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the school board voted to sign a contract with Management Advisory Group International, Inc., to look at how much the district pays those employees and it if the salaries is right for the jobs.

The cost of the review will not exceed $39,400, according to the board's unanimous vote.

"I think its good to do a study like this every now and then because you have different things that occur over time like salary freezes, migration in and out of the community, adding categories of employees or getting rid of categories," superintendent Jeff Moss said. "Things change."

The study will look at the salaries of about 700 to 800 administrators and classified employees, such as office staff, nurses and bookkeepers. It will begin in the coming weeks and should be completed by May, according to Moss.

Teachers' salaries will not be included in the study because their pay schedule is largely set by the state, Moss said. No such system exists for administrators.

The district hopes to determine how it compares to similar districts. If the district is out of line -- either paying more or less than like districts -- then officials will develop a plan to get pay back in line, Moss said.

Inconsistencies in the hiring of new and veteran employees prompted the study, Moss said

For example, a new district employee with 10 years of outside experience would be placed on a 10-year scale.

However, an employee who has been with the district for 10 years but whose salary has been frozen for three would only be on a seven-year scale, Moss said.

The study will identify those inconsistencies and make suggestions to address them, Moss said.

"Not only will the study look at the comparison piece and the actual salaries we are paying for certain positions," Moss said, "but it also will give us an estimate of the cost it would take to true up our salaries and get all our employees on the correct schedule and scales."

Outside consultants completed a similar study in 2009, under a $19,900 contract. That study resulted in roughly $750,000 in additional salary expenses, chief administrative and human resources officer Alice Walton said.

It found discrepancies between what administrators were paid and their experience levels. While it put a schedule in place to increase employees' pay, it did not develop a system to prevent such discrepancies in the future, Walton said.

Creating and implementing a monitoring system will be a large part of the current study, she said.

"I think what we are doing this time with the study is to get employees to where they need to be and put in a system to monitor where they are more periodically so we aren't starting from scratch every five years," she said.

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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