Following a formal announcement of local teachers in high ranking with the state, Director of Bedford County Schools Tammy Garrett asked the school board on Thursday evening to approve bonus pay for all school employees.
“All school employees,” Garrett said, include those employed since Sept. 1, 2022, as full or part-time, excluding school tutors and after school program employees (S.A.C.P.) The full-time employees will earn a $1,000 bonus and all part-timers were approved for $500.
There are approximately 1,600 employees that will get what is being deemed, “A Christmas miracle” during a time of high inflation rates.
Since this bonus money will be coming from some of the last ESSER or federal pandemic funds, the state will have to approve this amendment before the bonus dollars can be released to employees.
Garrett advised board members the amendment is based on COVID-19 experiences, and all encompassed in school life within the last couple of years. She advised the bonus money was needed to say “thanks” and for “morale.”
“Our employees have worked tirelessly, mitigating the learning loss of students, due to COVID,” advised Garrett. We’re still working on that everyday.”
She added how educators are still involved in ongoing social and emotional learning, largely as a result of the pandemic. She advised how a lot of kids are still struggling, due to the associated isolation.
She continued that teachers are covering multiple classes, due to a lack of substitutes. As well, employees from supervisors to bus drivers have all dealt with bouts of COVID, flu and strep.
The superintendent simply surmised, “I think our folks could use a bonus.”
The board unanimously approved. Bedford County Finance Director, Robert Daniel, advised that the bonus money is subject to payroll taxes. Garrett said it was estimated, after taxes, that take home amounts would be about $650 and $320, respectively.
Newly elected board member, Shana Boyette, who serves as human resources director for Bedford County Government, suggested a separate payroll be set up for bonus distribution. Before approving the superintendent’s ESSER 3.0 amendment, 6 of the 9 board members—those with family employed in the school system—read their conflict of interest statements, declaring faithful consciousness of their votes, which in the end were all yeses.
After the board’s unanimous decision to approve, superintendent Garrett said, “I know they [employees] are cheering . . . appreciate out in online land . . . .” Several teachers were in the audience at the meeting, which was held at Thomas Magnet.
Garrett advised, “It feels so good to have a board that is pulling together for our staff and our students.”
Having served Bedford County the last 2 years, it was announced that the superintendent’s contract will come up for renewal next month. She was commended for doing a great job by board chair Michael Cook.
The superintendent wished all a happy Thanksgiving break, which runs Nov. 21-25.