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The Calvert Association of Educational Support Staff is proposing a similar pay scale compression to the one the teachers union recently proposed, allowing employees to reach a higher step increase faster.

During Dec. 18 negotiations for a new three-year contract, the support staff union’s financial consultant Gordon Smith proposed a new pay scale in which support staff employees would be repositioned to the new scale on their next highest salary and then bumped forward an additional step.

On the new scale, every step from steps 1 through 11 would increase 3 percent; every step from steps 12 through 17 would increase 1.75 percent; and steps 18 and 19 would increase 1.5 percent.

Since support staff employees are paid at an hourly rate, an employee on step 9 currently making $15.38 an hour would be then repositioned at step 9 on the new scale $15.62 an hour and bumped forward to step 10, making $16.09 an hour.

Smith, who is the former executive director of finance for Calvert County Public Schools, recently made the same presentation on behalf of the teachers union, but had them moving to the step closest to their salary rather than the next highest step.

Smith told the Calvert County Board of Education’s negotiating team that the pay scale compression would be benefical to all support staff who have gone without steps for the past two fiscal years.

“For every year that that isn’t offered, it becomes one more year [that a higher salary is] out of reach and maybe one more year that you have to work,” Smith said.

CAESS Chief Negotiator Joseph Sella said the pay scale compression meant a consistently built-in raise and a way for employees to reach their top earning potential faster.

“It’s kind of a win-win thing for everyone,” Sella said.

The board’s chief negotiator, CCPS Deputy Superintendent Robin Welsh, told the union to put the compression into formal proposal language. After the union did so, she asked how much they expected the compression and step forward to cost the board for fiscal 2014.

Smith said he did not expect the compression and additional step to exceed $892,000 if applied to all support staff employees.

The union also proposed that support employees who are already on their highest salary position receive a 4 percent cost of living salary adjustment.

The two sides signed off on the General Provisions article with added language stating that the public school laws of Maryland would be followed if the two sides were to reach impasse in negotiations.

The board’s team and the union could not reach an agreement on the language in the Employment and Assignment article. The board’s team wanted to change contract language to state that effective July 1, 2013, all open positions will reflect whether experience will be considered.

Sella said changing the language in this article reinforced what he called a countywide belief that “jobs are created for people.”

“We don’t need to have a document that creates doubt in people’s mind,” Sella said.

The union wanted to keep the original language, stating that job related experience must be verifiable at the discretion of the superintendent, which Welsh said her side found subjective.

“We’re really trying to make it a little more objective,” Welsh said.

“People accept that the superintendent makes the final decision on hiring. ... It’s working; we have quality people working here,” Sella said.

ldukes@somdnews.com