AUGUSTA — After a “difficult” summer attempting to hire employees, Capital Area Technical Center changed how it calculates pay to be more competitive in attracting instructors for public safety, electrical, plumbing and other vocations.  

In a recent special meeting, board members voted unanimously, 5-0, in favor of adjusting the pay scale to credit the professionals for their years of experience in the field. Previously, the pay scale gave employees one year of experience in pay for every two years of experience in the field; now, with the change, employees will receive one year on the teaching pay scale for one year of experience.   

Nick Gannon, the director of the technical center, told the Augusta Board of Education personnel committee in mid-September that most candidates who applied for vocational teaching jobs turned down offers after seeing how much they would be paid, which in some cases was a 50% pay cut in comparison to what they would make in the field, he said.  

Superintendent Jim Anastasio said the entire cost to bring the employees’ pay to the new scale would be $135,000 — with the lowest experienced employee adding $3,000 in salary and the highest collecting $17,500 more. The district will pay employees retroactively from Aug. 30 to the present pay period. 

“I had an awful summer trying to hire people,” Gannon said at the Sept. 11 personnel committee meeting. “I had at least three law enforcement (candidates) who couldn’t commit to the salary, it just wasn’t high enough, and I had an outside chance of hiring an electrical candidate who would consider the job if the pay scale (were replaced) but it would be a 50% pay cut for him.”  

In an update last week, Anastasio said at the special board meeting that the center will likely fill two positions they were not able to fill in mid-September.


Gannon explained to the board that the technical center has enough money in its reserve account to fund pay for its vocational instructors for up to three years, however, he expects it will pay itself back in revenue if the center can attract more instructors. 

The center is funded by the state and has an interlocal agreement with the eight sending school districts that allows additional money to be raised if the center needs it, but Gannon said the agreement has never had to be utilized.  

The technical center offers students the opportunity to spend two class periods at the Augusta-based learning center where they can use high school class time to earn a certificate that usually allows them to enter their career right after they graduate. 

Some of the vocations offered at the Capital Area Technical Center are firefighting, law enforcement, automotive technology, electrical technology and plumbing, among other options. 

Public education teachers are paid on a scale that is dependent on their level of education and number of years of experience. The starting teacher salary in the Augusta Public School Department is $47,534. 

Before the new change, a vocational teacher with 10 years of experience would translate to five years on the Augusta teaching salary scale, which is $53,000 but with the change, experience in the field will translate to the same number of years on the teaching scale, meaning, the instructor would instead make $56,758. 

According to the Maine Department of Labor, an electrician in Maine is paid an average wage of $29 an hour and the average police officer is paid $27 an hour — the salaries for the year would equal around $60,000 and $56,000 a year, respectively. 

“I think it’s important we support technical instruction and hope that it shows that the trades are worthwhile to pursue as a career and that people can make decent money,” said board chair Martha Witham at the meeting. “And they shouldn’t leave money to become an instructor of the trades.” 

The technical center serves students from eight sending schools: Cony High School, Erskine Academy, Gardiner Area High School, Hall-Dale High School, Maranacook Community High School, Monmouth Academy, Richmond High School and Winthrop High School.  

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.