Chair Geiger called the telephonic meeting to order at 1:00 pm. He directed the members' attention
to Attachment A - Minutes of the February 24, 2005 meeting. It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Judy Susie, to approve the minutes. The motion carried.
Service Award Policy
Chair Geiger next referred the members to Attachment B - Policy 122, Service Awards, and asked
Mike Sandal to give the opening comments. Mike said Jeanne Walstad drafted two versions of the policy. The first draft provides for the inclusion of other state service in the service awards for the
judiciary. The second draft recognizes just service to the judiciary. The major changes to the policy are to increase the service awards and to add a statement, which would postpone or withhold service awards where there were documented issues of performance. Twenty-three employees would be affected if we were to include other state service in the policy. The estimated cost of increasing the service award amounts for these people would be approximately $2,000.
It was moved by Judge Paulson, seconded by Kurt Schmidt, to adopt the second draft that
does not include other state service as part of the calculation formula in determining years of service in the service awards for the judiciary.
Judge Paulson commented that our service awards are judiciary awards not government awards. Jeanne Walstad expressed that it is important to keep the judicial award special and believes it is a fairness issue to the employees who have been with the judiciary.
Judge Paulson called for the question. The motion carried unanimously and will go to the Supreme Court for consideration.
Chair Geiger then drew the Board’s attention to Attachment C on the agenda, Revised Classification
Specification for Court Reporter, which was before the classification committee for pay grade assignment. Mike Sandal reviewed that the Board started working on the revised specification prior
to the implementation of Bjorklund’s recommendations. In June of 2004, the Supreme Court stopped all actions on existing or pending classifications. Once the new system was in place, then
any pending classifications would go through the new classification process. The specification was reviewed by the classification committee. The classification committee felt that the terminology did
not have an impact on any of the quantitative factors in the class evaluation system and suggested it remain at a pay grade 12.
Chair Geiger added that most of the revisions were made at the April 2004 meeting to develop consistency in some of the same responsibilities and functions of the Court Reporter and Electronic Court Recorder.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Judge Paulson, to add an “s” to the word
“trial” in the first sentence under General Summary, and in the second sentence, strike the word “and” and the “s” on the word “assists.” The motion carried.
By consensus, the Board agreed to adjust the class specification to reflect active verb.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Judge Paulson, to strike the words “and
preserving” in the first sentence under General Summary.
Mike said the first sentence of the Electronic Court Recorder-District Judge class specification, which was previously approved by the Supreme Court, states, “The Electronic Court Recorder is responsible for making and preserving a verbatim record of district and juvenile court trials...”.
Chair Geiger commented that if there are changes to the Court Reporter specification, the Electronic Court Recorder specification should also be changed.
Gladys Schmitt suggested the word “preserving” could mean the person taking the record makes
sure that it is handled properly until it is stored away so perhaps it should be left in.
Judy Susie said although she appreciates the initial meaning of the word, as a former clerk, she believes the language should be deleted because it is the clerk’s responsibility to be the holder of the record and to preserve both the shorthand notes and the tapes.
The motion carried.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Jeanne Walstad, to strike the second sentence under Duty No. 3, under Major Responsibilities, which reads as follows, “Reduce to writing decisions, findings and orders issued by the judge from the bench as directed, as well as jury
instructions and other legal dictation and correspondence.” These duties are encompassed under Duty No. 5, so the sentence is repetitious. There being no further discussion, the motion carried.
It was moved by Jeanne Walstad, seconded by Justice Kapsner, to approve the Court Reporter class specification as modified. There being no further discussion, the motion carried. The class specification will go to the Supreme Court for consideration.
It was moved by Judge Paulson, seconded by Gladys Schmitt, with regard to the Electronic
Court Recorder class specification, to strike the words “and preserving” in the first sentence under General Summary; and in the second sentence, strike the word “and” and the “s” on he word “assists” so it will become singular. It was also moved to strike the second sentence
in Duty No. 3 under Major Responsibilities. There being no further discussion, the motion carried.
Chair Geiger referred the Board to Attachment D on the agenda, Reclassification Request, and asked Mike Sandal to provide an overview of the request. Mike explained proposal before the Board is
based on a reorganization which no longer requires two supervisory positions. Supervisory duties are no longer assigned to this position. He said when reviewing the classification of a position,
consider the duties and responsibilities the manager has assigned to the position and then try to match that position to a job classification where it most closely relates. The Board should look at
the duties assigned and not the personal attributes. The major difference between a deputy clerk III and a deputy clerk II is the deputy clerk III has supervisory or lead work responsibility. With those
duties of lead work supervision no longer assigned to the position, we need to look and see if the classification of the position is still accurate. The recommended classification is deputy clerk II
In response to a question from Judge Paulson as to whether or not there will be a salary adjustment, Mike responded that under Policy 103(5), if the classification is downward, the employee's salary
would not be reduced below the present level.
It was moved by Judge Paulson, seconded by Kurt Schmidt, to adopt the proposal by Unit 3
to reclassify a deputy clerk III position to a deputy clerk II in the South Central Judicial District.
Justice Kapsner questioned whether this matter was appropriate before the Board. It is essentially
a demotion and an adverse employment decision. She said it is not appropriate for the Board to consider this request, approve it, and then sit as an appeal board after the fact. She is concerned with
the whole use of the Board in this fashion.
Mike referred the Board to Policy 107, which states under the Procedure for Reclassification, paragraph 2, “A determination by the director of personnel that a position should be approved for reclassification will be forwarded through the state court administrator to the Personnel Policy Board for approval and, if approved, forwarded to the chief justice for final determination.” That is why this question is before the Board today. It is a question of reclassification.
Chair Geiger said it was his understanding that the motion was not to accept or reject the restructuring outlined in the proposal but rather it is just a motion to do the downward classification of the position from deputy clerk III to deputy clerk II. The Board has no authority to tell a unit how
to organize. However, if there is a change in responsibility as a part of that and the Board is asked to reclassify a position, it is the Board’s responsibility.
Justice Kapsner said if you look at the deputy clerk III job description, it does not include some of
the things that she perceives to be part of this analysis and is leery of using an analysis that anticipates a person would do duties that are not part of the job description. In looking at the proposal, she is not sure that B and C are required by our deputy clerk III job description and
questions how we could use that as the basis for saying this is not appropriate to describe a deputy clerk III.
Mike pointed out that under the class specification for the deputy clerk III, the last sentence of the first paragraph, under General Summary, states, “The deputy clerk of court III assists the clerk of court in the supervision and training of office staff and will act in the behalf of the clerk of court in their absence.” The last paragraph states, “The deputy clerk of district court III position is a supervisory position under the clerk of court and is not a career ladder position. The number of
deputy clerk of district court III positions are limited to one for every four people supervised.” Under Major Responsibilities, Duty No. 2 states, “Coordinates, assigns, monitors and trains other
district court personnel in the performance of office activities ensuring conformance to established office routines, instructions, and practices set by the clerk of court.”
Chair Geiger added that in the last sentence of the second paragraph of General Summary, it states,
“This level differs from other levels within the deputy clerk of court series due to the senior level occupational skills, experience requirements and the lead worker responsibilities of the class.”
Mike offered a couple of points of clarification. In most organizations, there is constant change and
realignment of duties and responsibilities associated with a given position because things change. Some things a position might be accountable for today may not be the same a year from now. Those
levels of duties and responsibilities can go up or down. Reclassification is nothing more than trying to match the duties and responsibilities assigned to a position to a classification that most closely correlates with those new duties and responsibilities. Positions are commonly reclassified up, down, or laterally, depending upon how an organization needs to restructure itself based upon its
obligations, changes in mission, organization, etc. In a reclassification, we look primarily at what is assigned to the position, the person is not a consideration. Classification looks at the position’s duties and responsibilities as assigned by the manager based upon what that manager needs to have done. Once we determine what needs to be done, we then go back and determine which is the best
classification. He said we do not want to get confused with personal attributes or how well a person does a job because that is handed through a different process. What we are looking at here is the position’s duties. There is another step after this and that is an appeal mechanism. Classifications can be appealed, and under our existing policy, the Personnel Policy Board can hear the appeal. The
Board’s decision is final on all denials. The issue here is do the duties and responsibilities that Sally has assigned to this position better match a deputy clerk of district court II or III.
Sally said the person currently in the position is a good employee and they want to keep her. They just do not need two supervisory positions. It is not discipline related at all. She feels as an administrator, she has an obligation to run the organization in a way that is best for that organization. She said as a steward of public funds, she has an obligation to make sure that the funds are well spent.
Chair Geiger said this has been presented to us as a reclassification issue and not a demotion. If you feel they have documented that, then we should look at it in that light otherwise, if you feel that it
is being presented to us in disguise, I guess then that is another issue. Otherwise, this is a reclassification motion before us.
Jeanne Walstad said it is her understanding that under Policy 107, the employee would be able to appeal. She asked what protection does the employee have when a supervisor brings a reclass and how often would a reclass involve an employee moving backwards? Mike responded that there are
appeal mechanisms back to this Board that the employee can initiate. As far as how often this occurs, classifications downward occur quite frequently because duties and responsibilities change.
If the Board feels there is an issue of reprisal, demotion, or something that is negative to the employee, we should address it through those appropriate mechanisms. Since this is a classification
decision, the Board should act as a classification action.
Judge Paulson called the question and asked for a role call vote.
The motion failed on a 4 to 4 vote.
Justice Kapsner said she voted to disapprove this and part of her concerns are the way it has been
justified. It is entirely possible it could come back here with a different justification. Her concerns about the justifications that are offered are that it seems to suggest that the position requires duties
not required by the job description.
Court Services Coordinator Classification
The next item on the agenda was Attachment E, the Court Services Coordinator position. Mike
Sandal explained the new classification results from some of the reorganization efforts in Unit 3. The position has been approved. Rather than force fitting these new duties into a classification that
did not accommodate them, a new classification was developed. The information was reviewed by the classification committee and after an assessment and evaluation, the committee recommended
the new classification be assigned a pay grade 11. If the Board approves the new classification, we will then recruit and fill this position in Bismarck. Currently, there will only be one position in this
classification, however, if other units decide to organize similarly to what Sally is doing, they could also take advantage of this classification.
Chair Geiger asked what the distinction is between this position and a juvenile probation officer. Mike responded it is a combination of basic level juvenile officer duties as well as duties assigned to a clerk of court’s office. The juvenile court officer I is at a pay grade 14, and a deputy clerk II is at a 10. This new position is at an 11.
Judy Susie said her concern is the cross training for this particular individual would be atrocious.
If the person is only conducting some of the clerk duties every now and then, the efficiency of this person is not going to be very good.
Chair Geiger said under Duty No. 7, it states the person may be temporarily assigned to either the clerk of court’s office or juvenile court office to cover staff shortages. Sally said that refers to when an office is short-staffed and someone is needed to answer the phone, this person could go to either office to cover those short-term problems. For the most part, this person would be in charge of
organizing the fine collections program and have a very limited amount of clerk duties.
Justice Kapsner asked what the juvenile and mental health screening tests were and what kind of qualifications do you need to administer them? Sally responded the YASI is the youth risk
assessment screening device and assesses the risk of re-offending. The MASI is the mental health screening device that looks for mental health issues. There are no training requirements for the tests
because they are computer generated. The person completes it on the computer and the computer runs an analysis. The analysis is given to the juvenile court officer assigned to the case so it would
not be an independent decision on the part of the person giving the screening.
It was moved by Gladys Schmitt, seconded by Jeanne Walstad, to accept the Court Services Coordinator class specification and pay grade assignment.
Justice Kapsner mentioned that two people are identified as the immediate supervisor and it is very
difficult to answer to two supervisors. She suggested the flexibility of the job suggests that it might be better under the court administrator's supervision
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Judge Hilden, to modify the classification description under Title of Immediate Supervisor to make the court administrator for the unit
the immediate supervisor. Motion carried.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Judge Paulson, to change the word
“administers” to “administering” in the last sentence under General Summary; under Duty
No. 1, under Major Responsibilities, the first word shall be changed from “Administrators” to “Administers;” and under Duty No. 4, the word “suspicious” in the first line should be
changed to “questionable.” The motion carried.
The motion passed to approve the classification description as modified and will be forwarded to the Supreme Court for consideration.
Mike Sandal referred the Board to Attachment F - Pay Plan Recommendations. Under our existing policy, this Board needs to provide a pay plan to the Supreme Court. He suggests the Board provide the Court with the following recommendations:
1. Eliminate transitional steps D and C on the judiciary’s step system, effective June
2. Accept the increase provided to state employees by the Legislature, effective July 1, 2005; (4% and 4% across the board based on the requirements of HB 1050); and
3. Move our entire salary structure an equivalent of 4% to match the general increase provided by the Legislature.
Mike referred the Board to a letter from Susan Sisk, Director of Finance, wherein she identifies the additional cost to the judiciary for the elimination of steps D and C. There are 37 people in the system that would be affected by this change. The cost of the elimination of these steps is $193,536, and the cost for maintaining the step system is approximately $555,000. The total estimated cost
of these efforts for the biennium is $748,778. Mike explained the longer steps D and C are in place, the more impact we are going to have on salary compression. The substeps were originally implemented because the judiciary could not afford to implement the new pay and classification at
With regard to the increase provided to state employees by the Legislature, Mike explained they provided a 4% across-the-board increase effective July 2005, to be paid in August 2005, and another
4% increase in July 2006, to be paid August 2006.
Concerning the recommendation to move our salary structure 4% to match the increase provided by the Legislature, Mike said when Bjorklund’s plan was implemented, it was our intent to maintain the salary structure as best we could with the cost of living standard. The December-to-December
comparison of inflation was about 3.3%. He further explained that depending upon what happens during the biennium, if we have vacancy savings or other savings in our salary, he would like to
eliminate step B next year and step A the following year.
It was moved by Gladys Schmitt, seconded by Judge Hilden, to approve the pay plan recommendations to eliminate steps D and C effective June 1, 2005; provide an across-the-board salary increase based on the requirements of HB 1050 effective July 1, 2005; and increase the current salary ranges and steps by 4% effective July 1, 2005. There being no
further discussion, the motion carried and will be forward to the Supreme Court for their consideration.
An employee requested a salary increase to accommodate some additional duties and responsibilities
assigned to her. Policy 103 states that for lateral changes in a position, a salary increase will not be provided. Based on Policy 103, the state court administrator denied her request on April 20. The
employee filed an appeal dated May 9. Mike Sandal said he would consider this a grievance. If you follow the grievance procedure, the employee would have ten days to file the grievance after the final decision was made by the state court administrator. Ten days would have required an appeal to be filed by April 30. The grievance is provided to this Board under the grievance process.
It was moved by Judge Paulson, seconded by Kurt Schmidt, to deny the appeal because it was
not filed in a timely fashion. The motion carried.
Mike said he is currently working on a modification to Policy 103, which addresses situations when substantial and documented reassignment or change in duties and responsibilities are assigned to a position. It also provides for salary increases when we have temporary situations, i.e. someone is
named an acting director while we are waiting to recruit and fill the position. These draft changes will be before the Board shortly. It was the consensus of the Board that Mike include an alternative
draft to provide for a probationary period and a right to return to the prior position.
The next meeting will be held in Bismarck on August 26, 2005, commencing at 10:00 a.m.