Topeka The Kansas Board of Regents has endorsed a plan that eventually could create a new employment system for Kansas University's classified staff.
Regents on Thursday voted unanimously to pursue legislation that would allow universities to remove classified employees from the state's civil service system.
KU officials said Kansas and Colorado were the only two states with Big 12 institutions that used civil service.
"The comparison of Big 12 states is compelling for me," Regent Janice DeBauge said. "And I think it aligns with our block grants and individual (campus) ownership issues."
KU's classified staff voted last year to pursue the plan, with 54 percent of those participating in favor of leaving civil service. That referendum came after an earlier vote ended in a tie.
Classified Senate leaders have said they could receive larger pay raises under a different system. Under civil service, the Legislature sets pay rates.
KU administrators say the new system also would give them greater flexibility in determining job titles and descriptions.
There are about 1,400 classified employees at KU, including secretaries, janitors and maintenance workers. There are about 300 job descriptions for classified workers.
Some classified employees and the Kansas Association of Public Employees have said leaving civil service would jeopardize job security and benefits. They've said they would lobby against the plan.
Regents were asked to consider the plan in January, but they delayed action to get more information. Regent Donna Shank said Thursday she remained concerned that the issue hadn't been properly studied.
"That is a huge issue, and I'm a little nervous about moving forward so fast with that," she said.
But she said she voted to pursue the legislation because universities wanting to opt out of civil service still must have their alternative plan approved by the regents.