School board members vote 7-0 to award superintendent $5,000 performance bonus

Alamance-Burlington school board members have voted unanimously, 7-0, to award superintendent Dr. Bruce Benson a one-time $5,000 performance bonus for the 2020-21 school year.

During a special-called meeting last week, school board members voted to award Benson the $5,000 bonus for his performance during the school year that ended on June 3. The $5,000 performance bonus represents about 2.5 percent of the county-funded portion of Benson’s annual salary, $200,000, based on his original March 2018 employment contract with ABSS.

Board members also voted 7-0 last week to extend the superintendent’s employment contract by an additional year, from June 30, 2024 to June 30, 2025. The board had previously voted in August 2019 and August 2020 to tack an extra year onto Benson’s contract, which was originally set to expire on June 30, 2022.

School board members conduct an evaluation of the superintendent’s job performance prior to the start of each new school year, in keeping with the terms of Benson’s employment contract with ABSS.

In other business, school board members also voted to approve a $100,000 settlement with a former Sylvan Elementary School teacher, Theresa Schmitz, who sued ABSS for alleged discrimination in federal district court in 2018.

Schmitz alleged that ABSS had discriminated against her by failing to provide “reasonable accommodations” – by refusing to let her leave work about 45 minutes early every day – so she could care for her minor son, following his diagnosis in 2016 with a rare genetic disorder that affects the central and peripheral nervous systems, based on the lawsuit she filed in the federal middle district court for North Carolina.

The board admitted no wrongdoing in approving the settlement with Schmitz last week. The settlement will be funded with “a substantial contribution” from the N.C. School Boards Trust (NCSBT), school board attorney Adam Mitchell of the Tharrington Smith law firm in Raleigh following a closed session at a special-called meeting last week.

Participating school boards receive insurance coverage through the NCSBT for accidental injury claims and other damages related to litigation. The settlement was reached earlier this month, based on the federal court file.

School board members also approved a recommendation by the ABSS administration last week to cancel a contract with Kelly Education Services to manage hiring substitute personnel. Several existing substitute teachers complained to the board in June that they’d had to endure wait times and a laborious application process to be hired by the company.

The administration had recommended canceling the contract with Kelly Education Services it appeared unlikely there’d be enough substitutes to start the upcoming 2021-22 school year, ABSS chief finance officer Jeremy Teetor told the newspaper last week.

Only about a quarter (or 115 substitutes out of a total of 471 substitutes who worked for ABSS during the last school year) had completed the required paperwork through Kelly Education Services, he said. Cancellation will take effect within 30 days of the board’s vote, as required under the terms of the contract, Teetor said, adding that ABSS will resume in-house management of substitute staffing.