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AUSTIN EDITION -- 3 school secretaries to get pay raises

By Nikki Merfeld

*merfeld@postbulletin.com

Three Austin school district secretaries will receive unexpected raises this year after the district's completion of a pay equity study, said Julie Jensen.

Jensen, director of employee relations, has been working with Fox Lawson and Associates of Roseville, Minn., to study job descriptions and compare them to other jobs within the district and in nearby districts.

The three positions are the Ranch School secretary, the Austin High School counseling secretary and the Special Services secretary, said Jensen. Depending on each secretary's tenure, the hourly increases could range from 39 cents to 66 cents and hourly pay would range from $12.71 to $15.38.

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In all, eight positions are affected by the study, and all eight are in the secretarial bargaining unit, she said. While five staff members are receiving more than the equity study recommends, they will not have their wages reduced, Jensen said.

"The board personnel committee has decided to deal with the people (who are overpaid) in negotiations," she said. At that time, their contracts might be frozen to establish equity.

Jensen said she did not recall which secretarial positions were overpaid.

The Austin School Board on Monday approved a new job classification system that uses the Decision Band Method.

She said all employees will have a chance to appeal reclassifications. Staff members will be notified this week of the changes.

A draft of the job evaluation ratings shows the district has employees in Bands A through E but none in Band F, which would be jobs dealing with direction and goals of the whole organization. Band A includes positions such as food service, maintenance and paraprofessionals, or educational aides. Band E includes the superintendent and the directors of human resources and business services. Teachers are in Band C.

"The basic premise of (the Decision Band Method) is that the value of a job depends on its decision-making requirements," according to a report from Fox Lawson.

The district learned earlier this year that it could face disciplinary action because only 60 percent of its jobs complied with the Minnesota Pay Equity Law. Districts must have at least 80 percent of their positions in compliance with the law to avoid having the Department of Employee Relations intervene and possibly assess fines of $100 a day, said Jensen.

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In another vote, the board increased the counseling secretary's position from 11 months a year to 12 months.

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