SCF will review compensation fairness

eearl@bradenton.comMay 1, 2013 

MANATEE -- The State College of Florida is considering an upgrade to its compensation system and is working to build a new social science and faculty office building.

The college hired educational institution consulting firm Evergreen Solutions of Tallahassee to determine if its pay plan is competitive and personnel are being compensated fairly.

Evergreen began the analysis last fall and returned to the SCF Board of Trustees with findings and recommendations Tuesday evening. Jeffrey Ling, Evergreen executive vice president, said his company found nothing wrong with SCF plan structurally.

However, he did say employee morale is low.

"They expressed concerns with fair and competitive compensations, but they agreed that their benefits covered their needs," Ling said.

Evergreen compared the benefits and compensations of SCF staff to 33 state colleges and county academic institutions. SCF reportedly pays 2.95 percent below the midpoint.

Administrations and professional pay is .93 percent above average midpoint, or almost right at the average pay level.

Faculty pay is 7.29 percent below market average.

Overall, the college is on par with peers for benefits, but below par for pay plans.

The findings show compensation inequities with a big part involving compression, or incoming personnel making more than more senior faculty.

Board of trustees member Eric Robinson said compression can happen for many reasons, including an institution's increasing prestige, higher qualifications by incoming staff or economic highs and lows at times of hiring.

"Compression is not unheard of," Robinson said.

Evergreen recommendations include addressing fair pay by considering the number of years a staff or faculty member has worked with the college, moving pay within average regional ranges and increasing the career pay plan a minimum of 3 percent.

Board members said they want to look at the big picture before acting on the recommendations.

"If we had an extra $3 million laying around I would gladly give raises," said board member Craig Trigueiro.

When the school finalizes its budget in June, it will consider using state funding to meet the recommendations.

College President Carol Probstfeld said she and the board will continue to examine the findings as they work out next year's budget. The board will also consider holding a workshop on the recommendations.

SCF may also turn to the state to help pay for its new building.

Christopher Wellman, director of facilities management, proposed building a 36,000-square-foot academic building to replace an existing social science building and faculty office building.

Wellman said, in a facility assessment April 9, those two buildings are in the worst condition on campus.

"The cooling and ventilation is mid-1960s quality," Wellman said.

Wellman said the buildings have inadequate layout and are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"It will be more cost-effective to demolish and replace these buildings than to remodel," Wellman said.

There was not much discussion over his proposal.

"If he says we need to replace the buildings, than that's good enough for me," Robsinson said.

The board will discuss the costs of the new building at the May 7 meeting.

"We are approving the project with the next step being to approve the architect and engineering selection process," Probstfeld said.

The board will negotiate with engineering and architecture firms at the May board meeting.

Wellman plans to start design in June and construction in the fall. The school will aim to finish the building by early summer of 2014.

The board will work on analyzing expected state funding in more detail soon.

"We don't want to spend any money in a way that is not in a proper, responsible fiduciary manner," Triguero said.

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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