Playground monitors gained a permanent position in the district with the passing of Assembly Bill 2160.
The Bill was approved by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 18, 2018. It went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Prior to the Bill, part-time playground positions were unclassified. Unclassified workers did not have permanent status.
Interim President Larry Buckley explained that part-time playground positions did not have specified job responsibilities.
“They don’t have teaching responsibilities. They don’t have specific kind of job responsibilities like a custodian would have, where you’re supposed to clean the bathrooms or supposed to clean the sidewalks or a groundskeeper whose job is very clearly defined. They are there just to monitor,” Buckley said.
According to the text of California Measure AB-2160, “Existing law requires a school district or community college district that adopts a merit system to appoint a personnel commission and requires the commission to classify all employees and positions within the jurisdiction of the governing board of the community college district or school district or of the commission, except for specified positions that are exempt from the classified service.”
The merit system follows the principle of “like pay for like work”, according to the California School Personnel Comm Association.
Classified positions come with new limited benefits which are where fiscal problems arise, according to Associate Vice President of Administrative Services Bruce Rosky, who is also on the Pierce College budget committee.
“We don’t know yet exactly what it will mean for each department,” Rosky said. “It’s being done on an assignment by assignment basis.”
Most unclassified positions were temporary or entry level, and they are transitional jobs that see a lot of turnover and turnaround as people move on to better jobs, according to Rosky. Because of the new benefits that come with the new classifications being created, the budgets for the jobs are being reassessed.
“Roughly 40 percent of salaries funding is for benefits, so we can estimate that there will be an increase in costs by that much for each job we reclassify,” Rosky said. “For example, if we have $100 thousand in costs currently [for wages in unclassified labor], and we bring everybody over [to classified positions], we will have roughly a $40,000 increase in costs.”
In the Child Development Center on campus, Director Phyllis Schneider, also an instructor, described the progression as the new measures were implemented.
“Those assistant teachers who were working in all of the centers, they were unclassified employees,” Schneider said. “Their positions disappeared as of December 31 [and] there was no longer an unclassified assistant teacher position.”
Replacement jobs were created that were to run for 90 working days for each unclassified employee on a provisional basis, until the new classified positions were available, according to Schneider.
“These positions should be ending sometime mid-May,” Schneider said. “The new positions are going to be available for application within the next week or two. Everybody here who is provisional will have the option to apply for the new position assuming they meet the educational and work experience requirements.”
Schneider also described positive outcomes, mainly for the children at the CDC on campus.
“We’re not going to have the turnover of assistant teachers,” Schneider said. “We are now going to have more permanent staffing or somewhat permanent staffing everyday, predictable, same people. That’s good for children.”
Rosky also indicated that there were some initial difficulties with lifeguards and swimming pool staff. Deborah Hefter answered those concerns in an email to Roundup staff.
“The staff has always needed to have a certification in Lifeguarding,” Hefter said. “However with the change in legislation they also added a Water Safety Instructor certificate to the requirements. Our staff was not required to have this previously, so it was a challenge to get them certified before the change in legislation.”
Multiple departments use the swimming pool facilities throughout the week, and lifeguards are required whenever there are people in the water, otherwise the pool must be kept behind locked doors, according to Rosky. Scheduling of pool hours may have been an issue early in the process, however, Hefter reported that it had been handled.
“We have developed a provisional staffing plan for the spring 2019 semester,” Hefter said. “We have put forward to the district our permanent plan and we are waiting for approval to post the positions.”
Some of the stumbling blocks of California AB-2160 have been dealt with while others are still being assessed. Attitudes toward the new measure are starting to turn positive, according to Schneider.
“Something we were afraid of initially is probably really going to turn out to be a good thing,” Schneider said.