1.5% career center pay raises OK’d

In response to rising insurance and retirement costs for workers, the Washington County Career Center board on Tuesday voted to give employees from the superintendent down a 1.5 percent salary increase.

“I think we were trying to not make the teachers or the staff go backwards,” board President Larry Holdren said after the meeting, held in the center’s adult building following Tuesday’s house auction.

Career center Superintendent Dennis Blatt said employees’ take-home pay is likely to shrink in the upcoming year thanks to rising insurance premiums and changes to the State Teachers Retirement System that will increase an employee’s retirement deduction from 10 percent to 14 percent by 2016. The career center already picks up 2 percent of the employee retirement expenses, and that amount will not increase.

Blatt said the salary increase does not make up all of what employees will lose in their take-home pay.

“Some of them would still go backward; some of them would not,” he said.

The increase was agreed to in negotiations with the center’s bargaining units and applied to administrators as well as the center has traditionally done.

The changes to the salary schedules were approved by a 5-0 vote, with board member Johnna Zalmanek of Fort Frye Local Schools absent and Neil Huck of Wolf Creek Local abstaining.

Huck said he’s not against giving employees more money but thinks the additional expense could be a burden on the center down the road.

“Where are you going to come up with (the extra money) when you’re not getting any more money from the state?” he said.

The precise amount was not immediately available Tuesday evening.

In other business:

Blatt urged board members to contact Gov. John Kasich’s office to express their opposition to a provision in the budget bill being finalized in the General Assembly that would change the makeup of joint vocational school district boards.

The career center board consists of one representative from each of the six districts in Washington County and a member of the Ohio Valley Educational Service Center board. The change would prohibit members of the boards of education for districts served by the vocational district from serving on that board, although they would still choose who would represent them.

“That link with the board, being a member of the home school district and this board, is critical,” Blatt said.

Adult technical training director David Combs said the center’s surgical technology program was recently re-accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs for 10 years.