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Pay Raise, Bonus Approved

PRINCE EDWARD – With County Supervisors chipping in some extra funds for the school budget, it was fairly certain that workers would get a little more in their paychecks.

Exactly how much more, and in what form, was the weighty question school board members tackled at their May 19 meeting. In the end, the board opted for a mixture of a bonus and a one percent pay increase.

The approved plan translates into a one percent pay increase for all contractual employees (approximately $166,843) and fixed rate bonus of $800 for a projected 304 professional employees, $575 for a projected 46 classified employees, and $300 for a projected 59 part-time employees (with specific guidelines for what is considered a part-time worker.)

The approved plan does not address add to substitute pay, though the board did discuss how they stack up against other localities in the area.

Prior to board action, Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith was asked if anyone had heard from any of the staff-had anyone expressed opinions.

“The opinions that have been expressed to me personally are 'Thank you for trying to do something to boost the salaries,'” he said.

He noted that everyone that's talked to him “said the same thing.”

Those eligible for the bonus include those employed January 31 and continuously employed until the time the bonus is distributed November 30.

School board members had several options to consider including a three percent bonus for all employees, a 1.5 percent salary increase and a 1.5 percent salary bonus, a one percent salary increase and a two percent salary bonus, a fixed bonus, and a one percent salary increase and a fixed bonus.

“I think that the one percent salary increase is essential,” Dr. Smith commented in the discussion. “And that lets us incorporate the one step advance-doesn't make up for two frozen steps and we'll have to deal with those over the next couple of years, but it does accomplish that.”

In Other News…

The school board, following up on discussions at their prior meeting, agreed to extend the school day next year by 15 minutes. That extension, linked to the high school's turnaround requirements, is expected to be factored by starting five minutes earlier and ending the day ten minutes later.

“The requirement of the turnaround program (to improve the County's high school) is that additional student learning time be planned in,” cited Dr. Smith. “It can take various forms and that includes remediation intervention time and includes added schedule time and so, as we looked at the possibilities, we felt that by adding 15 minutes a day, that equates to about 45 hours a year total.”

Dr. Smith also explained that it “seems like the starting time being five minutes earlier is not gonna mean the buses have to leave earlier in the morning. It simply shortens the free time in the morning time at the school once the buses arrive. In the afternoon, they'll leave about ten minutes later, and that's not a significant amount of time to upset other schedules like athletic schedules…”

The urgency in the need for a decision, the superintendent also explained, was due to the need for alignments in the contracts.