SCS to pay higher rate for certified staff to drive buses

$1,000 retention bonus approved for full and part-time employees

ALBEMARLE – The Stanly County Schools Board of Education met on Tuesday, September 5, with two items related to employee pay on the agenda. 

The board first addressed two matters related to the North Carolina School Board Association.  

The first was the approval of board members Robin Whittaker, Dustin Lisk, Carla Poplin and Vicky Watson as the four Stanly County Schools’s 2023 voting delegates for the North Carolina School Board Association. 

In addition, the board voted for Glenda Gibson as a regional nomination to be considered for approval by the NCSBA Board of Directors.  

Those chosen to serve on the board of directors will serve a two-year term. 

“[Gibson] is very active in the affairs going on at the state level between the boards and the committees,” Lisk said. 

The board also announced two upcoming events related to their committees. The first is a joint meeting between the facilities committee and the Albemarle City Council to be held on September 20, in which they will discuss the ongoing facility issues and future building in the Albemarle district. 

The second is that the finance committee will meet on September 27 in order to review the ESS contract. ESS is a staffing provider that helps fill vacant positions in education, however Lisk, who is a part of the finance committee, has addressed his concerns with ESS mostly related to too high a cost related to the services provided. 

The board then approved the issuance of a $1,000 retention bonus. 

“All Stanly County Schools employees that are full-time or part-time, we are looking at giving them a retention bonus in October in the amount of $1,000,” said Chief Financial Officer Terry Dudney. “The criteria that we used last year at this time was that individuals had to be employed by September 1 and remain employed by the day of the payment.” 

The board also approved the allowance of certified staff to be hired to drive a bus for Stanly County Schools. 

“I know we had very much an issue over the last year and into this year about having enough bus drivers to get our kids back and forth to school,” Dudney said. “We have come to a recommendation that we would pay our certified staff an hourly rate of $22.50 an hour for those that would be willing to drive a bus for Stanly County Schools. It either could be substitute time or if we actually needed them to be full-time to drive a bus. The previous rate was a $15 hourly rate.” 

Board member Lisk further clarified where the money for these two items came from, as well as addressed future concerns related to funding. 

“Those are paid with grant money,” Lisk said. “There’s not a pot of money lying around that we have. We’re not a taxing authority, so we’re reaching the last of what the federal government has provided down to the schools. When that money’s gone, then we’re down to the nuts and bolts of how primary funding is. Out of our $119 million, our county was given roughly $15-$18 million from the federal government. We are primarily a state-funded school system, and those monies are highly restricted, so we can’t just pull it out of one bucket and put it in another due to state statutes.” 

“What’s going to be required to do all the things we need to do is public support. You’re going to have to vote on a bond package, and we hope that we’re engaging the public coming up on some of these conversations and coming up with some ideas and putting together something that we feel our board, the commissioner board, and the majority of the public can rally around because whether we like it or not, that’s the only way we’re going to fix facilities. If we don’t pass it, there is no other money.” 

The Stanly County Schools Board of Education will next meet October 3.