Two thousand support personnel employed by the Prince William County school system will receive notices today and tomorrow from the administration that their jobs are being reclassified, pending School Board approval of a new pay scale plan next week.
The plan affects school bus drivers, clerical workers, mechanics, custodians, and cafeteria workers.
According to a report released last week to the School Board, nearly 1,190 jobs, including those of 300 cafeteria personnel, will be upgraded, 94 will be downgraded and 506 will remain unchanged.
The system's approximately 250 classroom aides are considered classified employees, but were not included in the study. Their pay is tied to the teacher pay scale.
If approved, the plan translates into raises for 351 employees beginning Feb. 1. The remainder will see no change in their paychecks. And 13 workers whose jobs have been downgraded will have their pay frozen for one or two years until newly aligned step increases push them into higher pay levels.
According to Robert Ferrebee, associate superintendent for management, there has not been a reclassification of support personnel since 1976. He said the current system had become needlessly complex as skill levels and steps within the salary scale have proliferated.
"The new plan is fair to the overwhelming majority of classified employees," Ferrebee told the board. And, he explained, it is much simpler.
In the case of clerical workers, for instance, nine skill levels have been reduced to seven. For laborers and tradesmen, four levels have been reduced to two.
The cost of implementing the plan this fiscal year would be $120,000, and $254,564 annually, according to Ferrebee.
In answering questions from School Board members at the Jan. 6 meeting, school Superintendent Edward L. Kelly stressed that "nobody is going to make less money," although he acknowledged that the 5 percent whose jobs are downgraded will also see "their earning potential downgraded."
Tom Colbert, who heads the employee advisory council for tradesmen, said he expects the overwhelming majority of mechanics to support the plan.
"For one thing, it includes a set procedure you go through to have a job upgraded," Colbert said. "In the past, it all depended on the judgment of the supervisor."
The entire classified-employees study, which was conducted by Public Administration Service, a McLean-based consulting company, cost $100,000 over two years. Phase I, completed last spring, resulted in raises for all classified employees. The new pay scale is the result of Phase II.
"Only an outside firm can do this sort of thing," Ferrebee said. "You look at your own people and you want to take care of them. You just can't be objective."