North Putnam makes decision to cut non-certified employee hours

Friday, January 17, 2014

BAINBRIDGE -- After many months of back and forth question and answer sessions about what to do about non-certified employees hours, a decision has finally been made.

During Thursday's North Putnam School Board meeting non-certified employees, including instructional assistants, janitors and cafeteria workers, were reduced to 25 hours a week starting Feb. 1.

This decision has been a long time in the making. The school board originally cut hours and then reinstated the hours for those non-certified employees. For the past three months health care issues have been a central topic at many of the meetings.

The consequences for not complying with the health care mandate could be considerable fines for the school corporation.

Donna Huffman, an instructional assistant at North Putnam Schools, spoke to the board at the beginning of the meeting and asked members to make a decision on the matter, not just for themselves but so they could plan for the future.

"We just need to know one way or another," Huffman stated. "You would be saving money (if hours were cut), you could always give us a raise."

In the December meeting, school board member Travis Lambermont made a motion to put hours to 29.5 hours as soon as possible to avoid having to cut hours drastically in the future. It was originally deemed defeated, but at Thursday's meeting board member Oliver Haste pointed out that the vote should have passed due to a simple majority vote, the vote was a three for, two against and two abstaining.

School attorney Gene Hostetter reviewed board policy at the end of the meeting and determined that Haste was correct and the vote did count.

"What effect it had was that the motion wasn't going to be enough," North Putnam School Corporation Superintendent Dan Noel told the Banner Graphic after the review.

Noel also explained that the difference in hours was not significant and would have to have been changed anyway.

The board asked what Noel's suggestion would be on the topic, he recommended the cut of hours.

"It was one of the toughest decisions to recommend," Noel said. "This is affecting their (non-certified employees') lives. It's a real possibility that we will lose good people... this will affect the kids."

Noel and Tanya Peterson, corporation treasurer, worked on calculating what could be done with hours or if a raise would help.

School board member Mark Hoke was curious about what kind of raise would be needed to compensate these employees. Noel state even with $1 or $2 raise it would not come near helping to adjust for the loss of income.

In the end Lambermont made a motion again to cut non-certified employees hours down to 25. It was passed with a four to two vote. Haste and John Hayes voted against the reduction of hours.

"Compliance kills me," Haste said. "We get changing answers daily, not from you (Noel), but from the experts."

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  • It really aggravates me when an elected office abstains from a vote on important decisions. You took on this roll, please have the courage to make your vote known.

    -- Posted by momofboys on Tue, Jan 21, 2014, at 9:55 AM
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