By Richard Sullins | firstname.lastname@example.org
Santa will arrive in Sanford on December 5 this year with the annual Christmas Parade sponsored by the Central Carolina Jaycees. But if you’re an employee of the Lee County Schools district, look for his arrival just before Thanksgiving.
The school board voted unanimously on October 11 to provide a one-time $2,000 bonus to all full-time employees, both teachers and classified staff, who work between six to eight hours per day.
The plan impacting full-time employees is an across the board fixed-dollar amount and not a percentage based on salary. All permanent part-time employees (teachers and staff) who work less than six hours per day will receive a prorated share of the bonus.
Prorations of the salaries for part-time employees (who work less than six hours per day) will be made based on a comparison with full-time employees who work in similar positions. The bonuses will be paid to the district’s approximately 1,400 employees by Thanksgiving break in November and can also be used as a recruitment incentive for new teachers and staff until February 1, 2023.
School Superintendent Dr. Andy Bryan told the board the purpose of the bonus is to incentivize staff to stay with the district through the school year, so any employee who receives the supplement and leaves the district prior to June 20, 2023, will be required to pay back a prorated portion of the bonus.
Funding for the bonus payments will come from federal Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief dollars provided as part of three COVID relief packages that have been enacted by Congress. The total cost to Lee County Schools to implement the plan is $3.7 million, of which $900,000 goes to pay Social Security and retirement required of state-paid employees.
The school board crafted a similar plan last year, making $2,000 payments to employees just before the Thanksgiving break. But unlike last year, the 2022 program will not include longevity, or “legacy,” payments in addition to the one-time bonus.
It’s nice that our educators are getting bonuses after all. It sounded from previous arguments over the county budget that the teachers did not receive anything beyond the state pay structure. Now the question is if these bonus payments are actually being effective at increasing retention because as these FESS emergency dollars run out, I am sure the argument to replace them with local taxpayer dollars will become even more strident in upcoming budget discussions.
Sounds like bribery to me. Here’s money if you stay, but if you leave for a better paying position elsewhere, you have to give the money back. Call it incentives, call it “retention” but not what it truly is bribery. Here’s a thought schoolboard, if you pay these “teachers” a liveable wage, maybe you won’t have to “incentivize” them to stay in the first place. And, here’s where it gets better, make the “teachers” actually have to pass a yearly test to ensure they are up to date on their skills and are capable of teaching students. As a taxpayer, I would be more than happy to have a portion of my taxes go toward that instead of mural’s on the sides of buildings, new and improved street lights that look like shit downtown, or the other “improvements” Lee country thinks are a good idea. If teachers can force a student to test yearly to make sure they retain the information and are educated, then the same rules should apply to the educators themselves.
Teachers don’t force students to take a yearly test. Those tests are state mandated.
Truth hurts doesn’t it