House Bill 3146 completed legislation and is awaiting the Governor's signature. House Bill 3146 amends W. Va. Code §18A-4-8b, which as we all know, deals with seniority rights for service personnel.

At first glance, the initial amendment to 18A-4-8b does not appear to be a significant change in the way service personnel are employed, but the change is important. In particular, the amended language of the statute is underlined below: Qualified applicants shall be considered in the following order:

  1. Regularly employed service personnel who hold a classification title within the classification category of the vacancy;
  2. Service personnel who have held a classification title within the classification category of the vacancy whose employment has been discontinued in accordance with this section;
  3. Professional personnel who held temporary service personnel jobs or positions prior to June 9, one thousand nine hundred eighty-two, and who apply only for these temporary jobs or positions Regularly employed service personnel who do not hold a classification title within the classification category of vacancy;
  4. Service personnel who have not held a classification title within the classification category of the vacancy and whose employment has been discontinued in accordance with this section;
  5. (4) Substitute service personnel who hold a classification title within the classification category of the vacancy; and
  6. Substitute service personnel who do not hold a classification title within the classification category of the vacancy; and
  7. (5) New service personnel.

However, House Bill 3146 added a new section to 18A-4-8b which is in fact a major change. In particular, the amended language of the statute is underlined below:  

  1. The assignment of aides to particular positions within a school shall be based on seniority within the aide classification category if the aide is qualified for the position.
  2. Assignment of custodians to work shifts within a school or work site shall be based on seniority within the custodian classification category.

This major change may create "personnel nightmares" for service personnel decisions in the aide and custodian classifications. For example, what if a vacancy occurs in a building and was not posted specifically for a time/shift or other reasons? If a more senior custodian on night shifts decided s/he wants a day shift now or an aide decides s/he does not want to work with a certain teacher any more, do they get to change their assignment? Can a service employee jump/knock a less senior employee out of an existing assignment? Does the school principal no longer have the discretion to make aide assignments?

The Governor has yet to receive HB 3146 from the Legislature but that could happen at any time. Everyone who has an interest in HB 3146 (either for or against) may contact the Governor by FAX and express their views about HB 3146. The Governor's FAX number is (304) 558-2722.

Answers to these questions will be a "hot topic" over the next few months and during the summer as each county begins to prepare for the 2009-10 school year.