Wake County school leaders to vote on bonuses, pay hikes after bus driver, cafeteria worker ‘sick outs’

Wake County News

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) — The Wake County Board of Education will be voting on giving school employees some extra pay.

This comes after several days of bus driver sick-outs and Tuesday’s cafeteria worker “sick out.”

The proposal includes three bonuses of $1,250 during this calendar year, for a vast majority of district staff.

Board members are also looking at raising the daily rates of substitute teachers.

The bonuses and wage hikes are just one step to help retain staff working for the school system.

“Through some steps we’re taking today, in conjunction with the pending approval of the state budget, we’ll be able to get more money in the pockets of employees,” said Keith Sutton, chairman of the Wake County Board of Education.

That was the number one goal Tuesday afternoon for the board — keep employees happy which will keep them at the schools.

“We are overworking and overburdening people in the building,” one member said during the lengthy financial meeting.

The plan not only includes a three-time bonus for district staffers, but also allows the school system to pay the state-rate for substitute teachers, who have been filling in the holes of staffing shortages.

“[By] bringing the non-certified rate to $103, that aligns with about $13 an hour, ” said one board member.

All of their plans cost a lot of money.

Officials estimate $80.7 million would be used just for the staff retention bonuses.

While that money comes from the federal funds the district has already received, that money can’t be used to cover the $2.2 million for the increased substitute pay, and other staff compensation.

“That’s a recurring expenditure and once the [federal] funds are exhausted, it would require local funding,” said David Neter, chief operating officer of the Wake County Public School System. “With support staff compensation, those funds would have to be re-appropriated from somewhere. The amount of funding we have is all allocated. If we want to put some more over here, that’s fine, but where are we going to take it from?”

Sutton and superintendent Cathy Moore have already been in talks with Wake County Commissioners about getting additional local funds.

They said while the proposed state budget will help free up some extra money, more needs to be done in Wake County if real change is expected.

“These are recurring costs, and it may impact future asks of the county commissioners, so we want them to be aware of that,” explained Sutton. “[To] have some sense of both when and how much that may impact future budget appropriation.”

The board plans to present a proposal on staff compensation increases during their first December meeting.

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