City of Nashua school employees deserve better

Working for the Nashua School District for the past 20 1/2 years has been a rewarding and an “educational experience.” I cherish the many friends and fellow employees that I have met and worked with throughout that time period.

My job for the last 17 1/2 years was implementing and maintaining an “energy program” for the school district. This was a success in that it worked on a cost avoidance basis, meaning that what I/we did was save the district more than $14 million in energy costs over that time period.

In January 2010, I planned on retiring at the age of 68. I was asked by my supervisor, Mr. Shawn Smith, if I would stay on as a part-timer and continue just the energy program. This would be 20 hours a week. This was approved by the school superintendent. I agreed to those terms. I checked with the State Retirement Office to verify I could collect my retirement and still work 20 hours a week. They assured me I could. Mr. Smith sent a PAF to the Human Resources Office on Jan. 28, 2010, stating I was being permanently reduced from 40 hours to 20 hours peer week. It clearly showed I was not being terminated.

When I fully retired on June 30, 2017, I got all my accrued vacation pay, but not my accrued sick time pat. The HR department denied this, because they said I left before completing another 10 years at part time. I told her my service was not interrupted when I went part time, as per the PAF that was sent to them. I did not say I was terminated. It was a reduction of hours only. I work continuously for 20 1/2 years. On my last day of work, I received a plaque commemorating my 20 years of dedicated service and leadership.

The HR department has harassed me on four separate occasions since I went part time. The first two week I worked part time, they intentionally held up my paychecks with no explanation or prior conversation with me. I was told it was because I owed the district money from my prior salaried employment. I had to go directly to the superintendent with all my pay stubs to prove them wrong. Upon further investigation, I was found to be right, and I received a check for my two weeks of back pay and an apology.

Then, I was supposed to get a 2 percent pay raise in 2012/2013. It took them a year and a half to finally get that done. This was after my supervisor had to email them with the difference in writing of a 2-cent increase versus a 2-percent increase.

I was told there were no benefits for my part-time position. No one from HR went over the benefit package with me. In 2016, I received a handbook, via email, for non-union affiliated employees, and it clearly stated I should have been receiving holiday, vacation and sick-time benefits. After a meeting with the HR director and superintendent, Mr. Conrad, I was told that I would be getting back pay for holiday and vacation, and my accrued sick time would appear on my pay stubs. It took two months to get my holiday pay, another month to get my vacation and about four months to finally get my sick hours onto my pay stub. They only went back three years, because that was all the federal law required them to do. My sick hours went all the way back.

Now, about my sick time not being paid back at termination. There was no interruption in my employment, so I should get the sick time at 35 percent of what I accrued. That comes to about $2,800. I can’t go to the PELRB, because I was a non-union affiliated employee.

So, my advice to any hourly paid city employee, when you are ready to retire and you have a lot of earned sick time, you may want to start using it up instead of giving it back. You earned it by being a dedicated worker, and we all know what that gets you.

The problems in the Nashua School District and the continuous high turnover of personnel will not stop until someone recognizes there is a problem. The efficiency and competence of its leadership leaves a lot to be desired, especially in its Human Resources leadership.

Nashua deserves better, and its time they got it.