Thursday, August 11, 2022

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Background on newest raises: Thousands in bonuses and raises already approved for ABSS employees

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Alamance-Burlington school board members had previously voted to award employees thousands of dollars’ worth of bonuses and pay raises since the fiscal year started on July 1, prior to voting 4-3 this week to use part of the Covid-19 stimulus funding to award $3,000 bonuses to all full and part-time employees (see related story, this edition).


See: $3,000 December bonuses for all ABSS employees should make for a Merry Christmas:  https://alamancenews.com/breaking-monday-night-abss-employees-will-get-3000-december-bonuses/


Bonuses have been previously approved for school nurses; bus drivers; and Adapted Curriculum teachers. ABSS employees who worked this summer also received bonuses, as required by a new state law. Legislation passed by the General Assembly – after learning that record numbers of public school students had failed at least one class after instruction moved online in 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper required all public school systems to use part of their federal stimulus funding to pay bonuses to teachers who taught during an expanded, six-week summer school session this year.

ABSS also opted to offer a $1,200 “commitment bonus” to as many as 500 teachers who taught at least 72 hours this summer, based on a proposal that school board members approved in August.

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Though it did not appear to have been required under the new state law, ABSS also opted to award a $1,000 bonus to ABSS hourly (or “classified”) employees who worked this summer, including bus drivers, child nutrition workers, teacher assistants, and temporary clerical workers, based on details that were presented to and approved by the board in August.

School board members also voted 7-0 in August to offer a $10,000 “signing bonus” for nine vacant teaching positions in the Adapted Curriculum program, which is within the Exceptional Children’s division. Those teachers serve severely-disabled students who need assistance with basic functions like using the toilet and require more attention during instruction, based on an earlier description by ABSS deputy superintendent Dr. Angela Bost.

Later the same month, school board members voted 7-0 to award $5,000 “retention bonuses” to 32 Adapted Curriculum teachers who are currently employed with ABSS, at the behest of school board member Sandy Ellington-Graves, who reasoned that offering $10,000 signing bonuses to new hires might dampen morale among existing Adapted Curriculum teachers who she said hadn’t gotten any bonuses when they were hired to work for ABSS.

Last month, the board voted unanimously to award a $500 monthly bonus – retroactive to August – to 36 school nurses who, according to ABSS officials, have assumed extra duties due to an uptick in Covid-19 cases that had been attributed to the Delta variant of the virus.

ABSS school nurses will receive those bonuses for each month through December 2021, based on the proposal that school board members unanimously approved last month. The bonuses will cost ABSS a total of $93,000 and will be funded by the federal Covid-19 stimulus package that Congress passed earlier this year, ABSS chief finance officer Jeremy Teetor told school board members at the time.

School board members also voted 6-1 in September to award ABSS school bus drivers a $1,000 “referral bonus,” which the school system intends to pay for with approximately $20,000 in county current expense funding that has been earmarked for “bus driver recruitment incentives.”

Those bonuses are intended to motivate existing bus drivers to encourage people they know to apply to work as a bus driver for ABSS. Bus driver positions are traditionally some of the hardest to fill because they don’t offer full-time work hours or benefits, Teetor told school board members last month.

Newly-hired bus drivers also will be eligible to receive a $1,000 recruitment bonus after their first 60 days of employment with ABSS, based on the conditions that were attached to those bonuses.

Voting to award the $1,000 bonuses to school bus drivers were: school board chairman Allison Gant; vice chairman Tony Rose; and board members Wayne Beam, Patsy Simpson, and Donna Westbrooks.

School board member Ryan Bowden voted against, saying he would prefer to look for long-term solutions to make those positions more attractive to applicants.

School board members also voted 7-0 in late August to use approximately $900,000 in federal Covid-19 stimulus funding to increase the daily pay rates for substitute teachers by about 15 percent across the board, which was on top of a smaller increase that the board had approved earlier in the month.

Non-certified substitute teachers for ABSS will be paid $115 per day, which represents an overall increase of $28.50 per day (or 33 percent) from the 2020-21 school year, when non-certified subs were paid $86.50 daily. Certified substitute teachers (or those who hold a state teaching license) will be paid $130 per day, representing an overall increase of $27 per day (or 26 percent) from the previous school year, when certified substitutes were paid $103/day.

Other funding sources will be used to sustain the higher pay rates for substitute teachers once the federal stimulus money runs out, Teetor told school board members at the time.

Prior to the pay raises, the school system’s annual costs for substitute teachers averaged approximately $2.3 million, based on figures that were provided to the board for an earlier, unrelated discussion.


OTHER CURRENT ABSS COVERAGE:

See: $3,000 December bonuses for all ABSS employees should make for a Merry Christmas:  https://alamancenews.com/breaking-monday-night-abss-employees-will-get-3000-december-bonuses/

Other school systems are starting to give employees bonuses, as well:  https://alamancenews.com/other-nearby-school-systems-also-giving-employees-bonuses/

Board divided on whether to shorten 14-day quarantine period for students:  https://alamancenews.com/school-board-divided-over-when-whether-to-shorten-quarantine-periods-for-covid-19/

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