Troup Schools balance the pay scales

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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During the Monday work session of the Troup County School Board, Superintendent Brian Shumate, presented the findings of a classification and compensation study. The district partnered with Education Planners, a consulting company, to conduct the study.

TCSS has put into the soon-to-be finalized 2024-2025 budget, a pay increase for employees across the district.

“So when we built this budget, we put $2.5 million as a placeholder for salary increases and wage increases across the district. This is every employee group,” Shumate said.

These studies review the “internal equity” and “external competitiveness” of businesses and organizations. Two people in the same position could be paid different salaries, based on experience, education level, and other factors. The internal equity portion looks at these factors and creates or revises position classifications. Currently, the school district was found to have 125 different pay scales, some obsolete. 

“[Education Planners] kept using the words consistency and streamlining, which are the words that we started with. That’s what we wanted to accomplish when we started this process,” Shumate said. 

The study also takes salary and wage data from other county or city school districts and compares those pay scales to Troup County. These reviews attempt to create a uniform pay scale, where positions can be classified easily. The aim is to make Troup County a more competitive hirer and better retain the current workforce. 

Education Planners used fact-finding sessions, Detailed Position Analysis Questionnaires (PAQs), individual “desk audits,” and other methods to determine their findings. 

According to Shumate, the company received 873 PAQs and did 41 desk audits. The PAQs were distributed to the employees, asking about their present positions, responsibilities, requirements and duties. The desk audits were one-on-one sit-down meetings with employees. According to the 41 audits conducted is “an unusually high number,” but were “necessary to ensure accuracy.” 

Once that internal data was collected, the consultants began their evaluation of positions. This uses nine factors to determine classifications or grades of positions. The factors used were: Knowledge required by the position, supervisory controls (scope of responsibility), guidelines, complexity, scope and effect, personal contacts, purpose of contacts, physical demands, and work environment. 

For example, if a second-grade teacher has a master’s degree they would be in a higher pay classification than a peer that had a bachelor’s degree. A custodial worker who has been there 10 years would make more money than one with less experience. 

“One of the things I place a lot of value on, number one is you gotta have the knowledge to do the job, of course, [and] the education to back it up. We are in the education business, we should value higher education,” Shumate said. 

He added, “The next thing I would like to add is scope and responsibility, how much weight you have on your shoulder…Lastly is how many employees do you have? Supervising employees is tough.”

Once the classification recommendations were given, the next step was creating a compensation plan. This part of the study looked at neighboring school systems or those that “directly compete for human resources talent.” This included the county school systems of Caroll, Coweta, Harris, Heard and Muscogee, and the city school districts of Carrollton.

One of the more positive findings in the study was that Troup County was the most competitive for custodian compensation. However, the TCSS lags behind in bus driver compensation for newer hires and is the lowest for drivers who have been there for over 10 years, the top of the pay schedule. Similarly, mechanics have one of the lower salary schedules when starting, however, their pay gets more competitive with time. 

Meanwhile, Troup County is currently paying the lowest salary for teachers compared to the other systems. 

“We’re trying to take care of them and honor them for the work they’re doing and what they’re worth, based on the marketplace,” Shumate said. “As you all know salaries have gone up, wages have gone up all around the country. We can’t expect educators not to feel that and be honored in the same way.”

The study included some of the proposed salaries for the Troup FY2025. In the proposed budget teachers would move from the bottom of the pack to the center overall, getting around $2,000 more at all pay scales.

Educational Planners also recommended establishing a clear salary schedule and language that would “strengthen recruitment/retention, increase moral and internal equity.”

“The[ir] classified salary schedule has 35 pay grades, and so there’s different levels of jobs and classified but anytime somebody comes into the organization based on the job they get, it’s very clear where they should be placed,” Shumate said.  

Shumate said more additions need to be made, including stipends for sponsors and coaches, which he says has been inconsistent in the past. Establishing a system for creating new positions is also an item on the to-do list. 

“We’re not finished with this entirely. What we need to do right now, if you put this on Thursday, is get the salary schedules changed in the computer system so people can start being properly paid on July 1, under the new salary system. Some of the other things can be tackled later or throughout the next school year,” Shumate said.