County schools adjust pay to follow Labor guidelines

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 9, 2007

Payroll adjustments to bring the Lincoln County School Districtmore in tune with Labor Department regulations were approved asstudents returned to campus Monday.

The district reconfigured its pay for some contract workers andthe hourly wage scale of those who were making set amounts for atask, such as bus drivers, said Business Manager Cheryl Shelby.

Although bus drivers were paid on an hourly scale, their pay wasbased on projections on how long it should take them to run theirroute, she said.

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After the adjustment, they will be paid according to the numberof hours they actually work. The adjustment required some changesin the hourly wage of each driver, she said, but bus drivers willcontinue to make the same amount as before.

“They’re getting the same thing they did, but it will lookdifferent because it’s broken down to the hour rather thanmonthly,” said Superintendent Terry Brister. “It’s the sameamount.”

The pay of contract workers was also adjusted so they would makethe same wage, but on an hourly rate rather than a set amount.

For instance, Shelby said, the annual salary of a teacherassistant was divided by 12 to determine the monthly wage and thenfurther redefined to establish an hourly wage.

“Their annual salary may have changed by up to $10 in theprocess because of the rounding needed on some of the figures tomake it work,” she said.

A simple comparison of pay by two employees holding the same jobwould not necessarily show the same wage scale, Brister said. Therates could differ because of seniority and other outsidefactors.

The district has struggled to make the adjustments for the pastmonth, the superintendent said, because they wanted to ensure noemployee lost wages. The outside factors made each employee’s wageunique.

“The last three or four weeks (Shelby) has been taking eachemployee and determining their hourly wage based on their salary.It’s been a headache,” he said.

The adjustments were made necessary following the settlement oflawsuits in 110 school districts alleging labor law violations inrecent years.

The Lincoln County district was not sued. However, board memberswanted to comply more closely with the labor law afterdiscrepancies were discovered in the lawsuits about how manydistricts conduct its employee pay.

The lawsuits, filed between 2002 and 2005, alleged somedistricts were not properly keeping up with the amount of timetheir employees worked and not adequately compensating them fortheir overtime.

The State Auditor’s office has recently begun examiningdistricts to see if they comply with the higher standards.