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Caylor backs ban on college staff double-dipping

By M.J. Ellington
mjellington@decaturdaily.com · (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — State Board of Education member Mary Jane Caylor said Monday she is ready to end the practice of two-year college employees serving in the state Legislature.

Caylor, D-Huntsville, said the board also needs to study the situation of lawmakers who work for the K-12 school system.

The board will vote Thursday on a proposed policy change to prohibit two-year college employees from holding elected office.

The Birmingham News reported during the weekend on the flexible work schedule and days of missed work of Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, who supervises Calhoun Community College programs for students who need remedial help in English, reading and mathematics.

The report said Hall’s records show that she missed 69 hours of work in 2003 and 28 hours in 2004 that she did not make up. But a college spokeswoman said Hall, a salaried employee, is not required to keep time sheets or time cards that show hour-by-hour work, as do hourly employees.

Although Caylor said she has not discussed the upcoming meeting with other board members, she believes leadership from the system’s new Chancellor Bradley Byrne is the reason the board is likely to make the policy change Thursday.

“People forget that the board cannot act on a policy unless the chancellor recommends it,” Caylor said. “Bradley Byrne is doing this because it is the right thing to do.”

Byrne was a Republican senator from Fairhope until he became chancellor in May at Gov. Bob Riley’s urging.

Caylor said she has received so many phone calls and e-mails from people who want to stop the abuse that it is impossible to respond to them all. “I would do nothing else 24 hours a day,” she said.

The need for change is common sense, she said. “You can’t do a job if you are not at work,” Caylor said. “You can’t be two places at once.”

Hall is the only one of the college’s 925 employees allowed to work odd hours that often include nights and weekends on a schedule that enables her to be gone for days at a time when the Legislature meets.

But Calhoun spokeswoman Janet Martin said Hall keeps more detailed records of when and how long she works for Calhoun than other salaried employees and is in a job that requires her to do a specific job no matter how many hours it takes.

Martin said Hall also works overtime on occasion and does not always record every hour she works because she does not have to fill out a time sheet as do hourly employees.

“She probably does not put down every hour she spends at meetings after hours, on weekends and at other times,” Martin said. “Much of what Laura does she does on weekends and at nights. She has to catch the students whenever she can find them.”

$75,348 a year

Hall came to Calhoun in 1998, four years after she began her first term in the House representing part of Madison County. Hall’s current salary at Calhoun is $75,348 per year.

As head of The Calhoun Community College Foundation, Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said he has “no opinion whatsoever” on Laura Hall’s particular situation. The role of the foundation is to raise scholarship funds for needy students at Calhoun, and it has no responsibility for daily college operations.

But Orr, who will leave his position with the foundation when his term expires in 2008, said he “absolutely supports” the policy changes that Byrne wants.

Orr said some lawmakers even in the private sector have pay cuts when elected to help account for the time they will be at the Legislature.

“I took a salary adjustment at Cook to serve in the Legislature,” Orr said. He is corporate attorney for Cook’s Pest Control.

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