School Board sign

The School Board approved on March 8 to give full-time employees a one-time $430 bonus, expected to be paid in June.

The school system has about 400 certified employees with another 300 in classified support positions, according to Linda Foster, Human Resources supervisor.

The board also agreed to provide the bonus money to bus contractors to distribute to their employees.

Questions were raised about part-time employees getting bonus money.

Those working part-time will get half the approved amount — about $215 — with those working less than 45 days getting one-fourth of the amount — about $107.

The General Assembly and Gov. Bill Lee recently approved legislation to provide additional funding for teachers and certified personnel, effective for the second half of the current fiscal year — January to June 30.

Franklin County’s district allocation was $215,500.

Director of Schools Stanley Bean recommended at the Feb. 8 meeting to give a one-time bonus to certified employees from the $215,500 in state funds and also recommended using $150,000 from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to give all classified employees a one-time bonus.

Congress set aside about $13.2 billion of the $30.75 billion allotted to the education stabilization fund for the ESSER fund to be used as reimbursement for expenses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The School System has been allotted about $4.39 million in ESSER funds.

The board agreed on March 8 to include the bus contractors in the bonus schedule.

Questions surfaced about how they would be paid because buses are a contracted service and those employees don’t work directly for the School System.

The board agreed it would be fair to include the bus drivers in the bonus appropriations.

The board also began discussing the fiscal year 2021-22 budget with the first workshop scheduled at 6 p.m. on April 5 at the School System’s administration building, 215 S. College St. in Winchester.

The School System’s budget last year totaled $45.39 million, including $26.73 million in salaries and $9.4 million in benefits.

The board discussed pay hikes for teachers who have more than 20 years of experience who have been left out of the career-ladder step increases the last three years and agreed to discuss the issue further on April 5.

The board had discussed the issue at its Jan. 11 meeting and agreed that it should be a priority to add in a 21st career ladder.

Board Member Sara Liechty explained her outlook.

“My concern is we put it off year after year, and we continue to shortchange this group,” she said. “This should be a priority in the salary schedule.”