Wednesday July 3, 2013

ZEKE WRIGHT

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Non-union employees of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union will receive raises for next year dependent on their current salaries.

The lower paid 25 employees not covered by a collective bargaining union will see a 4 percent salary increase for fiscal year 2014, while the top paid 20 employees will have their compensation rise by 2 percent. The resolution was a compromise after an earlier motion failed to garner support.

The raises affect non-educational support staff including those in central office and do not affect recent hires or employees who recently changed positions, nor those covered under a collective bargaining agreement -- teachers, educational support personnel, and building-level administrators. Directors, coordinators, occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, and social workers are also covered, but the superintendent and assistant superintendent are not.

The decision to compensate lesser paid employees with a higher percentage came at the end of last Thursday’s SVSU board meeting after public comment from non-union employees and disagreement over contractual raises for next year.

Teachers, educational support personnel, and building administrators are covered under separate, collectively bargained agreements that vary year-to-year pay raises based on experience, the position, and, in the case of teachers, education level.


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Chief Financial Officer Richard Pembroke said based on those salary grids, the average increase for teachers next year under their agreement would be a little over 3 percent, ranging on an individual basis from 1.25 percent to more than 5 percent.

A new agreement for educational support personnel -- which includes paraprofessionals, some specialists, and maintenance and administrative employees at the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center -- is in the process of being ratified but is expected to include a 1.5 percent increase for all covered employees, plus individual step increases, according to SVSU board Chairwoman Sean-Marie Oller, who divulged the tentative agreement while contesting word of a larger raise at last Thursday’s meeting.

Personnel Director Marie Shutts and Finance Administrative Assistant Laurie Lingner spoke during public comment last Thursday and asked board members why they didn’t deserve a raise in line with other employees.

"For me this is personal," said Lingner, who said she put in extra hours for no overtime pay, "which is fine, because I do it for the kids."

At their previous meeting on June 20, supervisory union board members defeated a motion on the recommendation of Superintendent Catherine McClure to give non-union employees a 3 percent raise. Following discussion at that meeting, a second motion to give 2 percent raises was tabled.

On Thursday after 40 minutes of private and public session devoted to the matter, supervisory union board members approved the compromise resolution by a 5-3 vote, with Raymond Mullineaux, Claude DeLucia, Avis Bruce-Hurley, James O’Connor, and Leon Johnson in favor and George Sleeman, Francis Kinney, and Mark Tilley opposed.

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