(Un)Civil Service

Many years ago when I was hired by BOCES I was told that some day I would need to take a Civil Service test for my position; I had already worked for another BOCES in a Civil Service capacity, so it came as no surprise to me. Years went past and my colleagues and I waited knowing that eventually we would be classified by the Civil Service gods; when the day finally came it was an experience none of us will forget.

Classifying people like us is tough because we do a little of everything. That, coupled with the fact that the folks who staff the Albany County Civil Service Department bring a new meaning to the term incompetent, and you have a recipe for some serious stress. Some of my colleagues have worked for BOCES for over twenty years, but rather than grandfathering them in, they had to take a test in order to keep their jobs. If someone off the street scored higher than they did, they would be out of a job!

There were a lot of other anxiety-producing rules and directives that went along with this classification process. The people reviewing the applications were apparently masochists; one of the programmers’ application for Civil Service status was denied because she had a degree in Mathematics, not Programming. It did not matter to them that she had been programming for us for seven years! Seniority for everyone was set at zero; we were able to keep our years in the retirement system, but as far as Civil Service was concerned our start date is the day we were given permanent status. And after reaching permanent status we had to be on probation for a year.

You would think our administration would be mighty concerned at the prospect of potentially losing a lot of employees, but instead we were greeted by the gallic shrug of management. Most of them are high enough on the food chain to be exempt from tests. Some people did actually get hired by their respective districts or took different positions to avoid taking the chance of losing their jobs.

I am happy to report that I finally reached permanent status as a Network Administrator, but it doesn’t end there. A few weeks ago I found out that my district was planning on posting my job at a higher rate, effectively giving me a raise. Nifty, huh? Except I can’t apply for my own job because the Senior Network Administrator exam I took and passed does not count!

Isn’t Civil Service great?


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