Warren County leaders showed no support Tuesday for the School Board’s plan to give bonuses to its employees.

The School Board requested that the Board of Supervisors transfer money between categories in the division’s current budget’s operating fund. School Board Chairwoman Kristen J. Pence presented the request to the supervisors at a work session on Tuesday. Pence and Superintendent Christopher Ballenger responded to and answered supervisors’ questions.

Chairwoman Cheryl L. Cullers, Vice Chairwoman Delores R. Oates and supervisors Jerome K. "Jay" Butler, Vicky L. Cook and Walter J. "Walt" Mabe attended the work session.

The request also includes transfers from savings to pay for mowers, literacy kits for all elementary schools and other funds to help balance the budget. Supervisors focused their attention on the proposed bonuses.

The School Board wants to reward the employees who stayed on this year and took on more responsibilities and work as a result of positions going unfilled, Pence explained.

The School Board agreed on May 18 to spend $1.9 million to provide a net bonus of $1,500 to each full-time employee and $750 to each part-time employee, Pence said. In response to Mabe's question, Pence said the board has accounted for the full cost of the bonus, which is $2,250 gross for each full-time employee. The funds come as a result of positions left unfilled through the current fiscal year, Pence said. The division also saw savings when they filled a vacant position by someone in a lower pay scale.

“As a School Board, we felt that everyone that showed up during the '21-’22 school year should be recognized and acknowledged for essentially doing the work of all of these positions that were not filled during that time because the work still had to get done, right, and it had to be picked up by these teachers, these instructional assistants, these cafeteria workers, bus drivers, everyone that had to fill in for the positions that were essentially paid-for positions but we were unable to fill them,” Pence said.

While supervisors commented that they acknowledge the work school employees do and that they deserve recognition, no member voiced support for the request to use division savings to pay for bonuses. Oates criticized the proposal to give bonuses with savings because it also would include employees leaving by the end of this school year. She noted that she brought up her concerns at a Monday meeting of members of both boards.

“One of the discussions and concerns that I had as a supervisor is that we are rewarding people who are no longer going to be working for us and, in all of my years in (the) human resources industry, I have never seen a reward for people who gave their resignation,” Oates said. “That is a problem especially since we are facing 75 resignations.

“So wouldn’t it make more sense to take the money from the 75 people who are resigning and use it for sign-on bonuses for people that we are retaining or people that we’re trying to recruit?” Oates asked.

Pence reiterated the challenges employees faced this school year.

“I do hear what you are saying about the people that are resigning,” Pence said. “They were here. They did the work.”

Pence went on to say she understood Oates’ concerns and agreed with the supervisor that, in the future, maybe the School Board should rethink how it distributes bonuses and use the money for retention.

Mabe said he has no problem with bonuses in general but he has a problem with the division doing so after supervisors approved the School Board budget with funding in specific line items. Pence reiterated why the School Board wants to give bonuses.

– Contact Alex Bridges at abridges@nvdaily.com

(2) comments

DTUphold

Why are the Board of Supervisors in charge of schools in this State? Politics should NEVER be a part of teaching. After the debacle with the Frederick County BoS, now this, is it any wonder there are multiple resignations? Teachers going elsewhere? They are tired, overworked, understaffed, underpaid, and NOT secured.

John Chroniger

After 30 years of work as a public service employee I feel that if you sign a contract for a certain pay schedule then that is what you are entitled to receive. Just because your work load may be greater that others or more than you had the previous year is no reason to provide bonuses. If your workload decreases will you give back part of your salary?

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