Civil service commissions, like the one in Findlay, still provide an important community service.
Taxpayer-supported, the city’s Civil Service Commission provides testing and other employment-related services related to Findlay government jobs, including police and fire positions, and many other nonelected municipal ones. It also had provided job testing for secretarial and janitorial positions with Findlay City Schools until May 1.
While there had been no public indication until recently that the commission’s work hasn’t been a good investment, Findlay Mayor Christina Muryn has allowed the schools to opt out of civil service after many years, apparently as a cost-savings move for the schools. Last year’s payment to the commission for employment services totaled about $26,000 for the district.
Even though teachers and administrative posts have not been subject to civil service rules, the commission has provided certain employment guidelines and protections that will no longer apply at city schools.
We hope quitting the commission doesn’t prove to be a mistake for the schools or the community.
State civil service commissions as they exist today are an outgrowth of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, a federal law enacted in 1883. It mandated that positions within the federal government should be awarded on the basis of merit and not because of a political affiliation shared by those doing the hiring.
The civil service process was established as Ohio law in 1913 as a way to ensure that candidates for government jobs were qualified and to guard against cronyism and nepotism in hiring. Cities and the school districts within those cities are required to follow civil service rules that, among other things, offer workers an avenue of appeal with grievances.
Findlay City Schools Superintendent Ed Kurt has said the school district will use an online application and vetting process for all of its hiring, like it already does for teachers.
Internal reviewing and screening applicants will still add a cost to the schools, and it remains to be seen if that bill will be more or less than the annual one from the Civil Service Commission. Worse than a higher cost would be if a “buddy system” becomes part of the schools’ hiring system. Let’s hope it does not.
We also hope the schools’ decision is not the beginning of the end of the Findlay Civil Service Commission, with the city administration next finding a loophole in state law to eliminate it altogether. Those seeking school jobs, like city ones, should expect a stringent, objective and fair process will be followed to ensure that the most qualified — not those who happen to know the “right” people or are of the right political party — are hired.