After a lengthy discussion the Manawa School Board voted 5-2 to increase the hourly wage of support staff employees by 3.16 percent at its meeting on Monday, Dec. 17.
The board was presented with three options from the Finance Committee. The first option called for a wage increase of 3.16 percent for support staff “that are working on or after Jan. 1, 2013.
The second option called for a 3.16 percent wage increase “effective for staff that are working on or after board adoption.” This option also included a one-time equity increase utilizing gross pay from July 1, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2012.
The third option called for a 3.16 percent wage increase for support staff that worked between July 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2012. Since this option included “back pay” a WRS interest payment would be due if the back pay wasn’t completed by Jan. 1, 2013.
Board Treasurer, Paul Sturm informed the board that the district is currently working on designing a new system for performance evaluations for support staff employees. The goal of the new system is to have a fair compensation and reward system for support staff. The new system would also allow for wage increases to take effect on July 1 of each year.
The Finance Committee recommended the board approve the first option which did not include a one-time equity increase or back pay.
Board member Corrine Zielke said that the fair thing to do would be to give the wage increase to the support staff, along with back pay dating back to July 1, 2012.
Sturm said the support staff was not told they would be given a wage increase. He also said since the district is transitioning to a new system of compensation and reward system, the district wanted to give the support staff a wage increase because the support staff has been patient during the transition process.
“Is it fair to keep talking about it while they wait,” Sturm said.
After more discussion Zielke said, “I feel they are getting short-changed.”
Board President Kurt Kreklow reiterated that there is no wage increase due, and the district is not obligated to give a wage increase. He added that the support staff had also agreed to work for the district for a fair wage.
“Did they?” Zielke asked.
In response to Zielke’s comment, Kreklow said, “We don’t have them tied up to work here.”
Board member David Strebe said that he wants the board to be fair to all employees and that he agreed with Zielke about the back pay.
The discussion turned to how the back pay would be paid. The board was informed that paying back pay to the support staff would require the district to also pay employees who no longer work for the district but had worked for the district between July 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2012.
When Zielke questioned this, District Administrator Ed Dombrowski said he consulted with the district’s attorney about the matter, and that was what the attorney told him. Dombrowski said the district can’t discriminate when it comes to back pay.
Dombrowski added that the support staff has not received a base wage increase since 2010-11 and the support staff has been patient. He said there are around 53 support staff employees in the district.
“We have to do something because they have been patient,” Dombrowski said.
Later in the meeting the board voted 5-2 to approve a 3.16 percent wage increase on the base rate for non-contracted support staff effective Dec. 31, 2012. The approval did not include a one-time equity increase or back pay. Zielke and Strebe voted nay.