Education

QPS transition moves forward with support staff placement

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Oct. 11, 2017 9:55 am

QUINCY -- Quincy Public Schools has taken another step in transitioning to its five new K-5 elementary schools by making support staff assignments.

"It is a big process. The most important thing with it is, we really tried to listen to what the staff said. We wanted their voice in it," QPS Director of Human Resources Julie Stratman said. "We want it to be best for everybody involved."

The process to place noncertified staff began the same way as it did for the certified staff -- with a survey.

Staff set a priority for assignment or building, then listed first, second and third choices for both. Then, based on a memorandum of understanding in the contract, QPS directors met with each of about 125 support staff to review the survey and job descriptions. Then the directors and the five K-5 principals established some ground rules, including placing people based on qualifications, looking at balance of experience between buildings, and honoring staff priorities.

"We wanted to make sure we placed everybody the same," Stratman said.

If, for example, five nurses wanted to work at the new Thomas S. Baldwin School, Stratman said seniority would be considered in making the placements.

"It's not just the principal wants so and so," she said. "When people are placed, we wrote down a reason next to it that they didn't get her choice because somebody else had seniority."

Directors placed all staff in one category, such as clerical or food service, at one time, then moved to the next classification after a review of the ground rules. With everyone placed, the Quincy Federation of Teachers and Educational Support Personnel reviewed the placements and asked questions, and when satisfied, the placements were released by individual emails from building principals.

Staff members can appeal their placement through the end of October for three reasons listed in the collective bargaining agreement -- hardship, retirement nearing or a professional reason.

"They have to start with the new principal, sit down and talk about why they're appealing that placement," Stratman said, and from there, the appeal goes to Superintendent Roy Webb.

"There may be an easy switch. Maybe one wants one building and someone from that building wants your location. I can just switch the two," Webb said in a message to staff. "I will talk with all personnel wishing to make a change. I do not want to upset any balance, and I cannot leave us with a qualification issue. Yet, I want to make as many support staff feeling good with their assignment as possible."

Every support staff person got a first, second or third choice -- just like the certified staff -- and "when dealing with that many moves and that many people, that's pretty darn good," Stratman said.

After placing 244 certified teachers, Webb had 10 appeals. "He was able to place five of the 10 right off the bat. We had open positions, and with the other five, he'll keep on his list if somebody resigns," Stratman said. "He really wants to make sure we put people where they really want to be. That will go the same for the support staff."

Next to be placed in the new buildings will be library paraprofessionals and in-school suspension staff, and Stratman would like to have those done before Christmas. Other paraprofessionals will be done later in the school year based on student numbers and needs. "We usually don't know all that information until closer to the end of the school year," Stratman said.

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