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Grady County School System personnel are enjoying a week’s vacation this week and they all departed last Friday with some extra green in their pockets.
All 627 employees of the school system received $1,000 bonuses on Friday. The state picked up the payment for all teachers and other staff including cafeteria workers, custodians, and bus drivers with the Grady County Board of Education appropriating money from the general fund to pay administrative and central office personnel not included in the state’s bonus plan.
While no school system personnel missed a check, Governor Brian Kemp proposed a one-time $1,000 payment for school personnel and state workers earning less than $80,000 annually for extra effort during the pandemic.
“We felt it was important that everyone be included rather than some receiving a payment and others not,” Grady County school superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard said.
School finance officer Dan Broome and payroll clerk Kelli Ponder completed the March payroll and then shifted immediately to keying in the bonuses.
“I am thankful for Mr. Broome, Mrs. Ponder and the staff for completing this work in order for our employees to receive payment before spring break. I am hopeful that when we begin the budget process, we will be able to increase our hourly wages for our classified staff and add increases to the supplements of our certified staff. Our faculty and staff were working hard before the pandemic and they have risen to the occasion during these difficult months of face-to-face instruction,” Dr. Gilliard said.
According to Broome, the total amount paid out in the one-time payments last Friday was $605,450, of which $19,000 came out of local tax dollars. The state funding for the one-time payments was a mix of federal dollars and savings from higher Medicaid payments the federal government has been making during the pandemic, according to state officials.
Additionally, $21,006.05 was paid to cover benefits on the one-time payment of which $12,241.50 will come out of local funds and $8,764.55 from state funds, according to Broome.
The school board approved the payment of one-time bonuses to all employees at a called meeting on March 18. At that meeting, the board also discussed issues regarding the payment of supplements.
Board member Gerald Goosby questioned how much was paid in local supplements and how they were paid. Dr. Gilliard explained that the local supplement is $800 annually and it is divided into 12 equal payments. Goosby said that from comments he had received it was “hard” for employees to see that they were receiving any extra compensation when it was paid monthly rather than in a lump sum.
Dr. Gilliard said he would have to consult with finance officer Broome to determine if the supplements could be paid in a lump sum rather than monthly. He also agreed to poll the employees to determine if a majority had a preference.
At the March 18 called meeting, Dr. Gilliard also sought board approval to proceed with advertising vacancies for assistant principals following the resignation of two current staff members. Previously, the board had suggested delaying action, but Dr. Gilliard explained his concern that by waiting the system could miss out on prospective candidates who may accept new assignments or other positions now. The board concurred unanimously giving the superintendent the green light to begin advertising the vacancies.
Dr. Gilliard also outlined his plan to add a number of new positions in the 2021-2022 operating budget including three art teaching positions among others. The board also expressed its support for the additional positions.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the hiring of Virginia Meadows – math teacher at Washington Middle School.
• Accepted the resignations of Kelli Wilson – special ed paraprofessional at Eastside Elementary School; Demetria Jackson – PreK teacher at Eastside; Jailene Reyes – paraprofessional at Southside Elementary School; and Jennifer Donalson – math/science teacher at Washington.
• Accepted the retirement of Dr. Gloria Fuller – virtual school director.
• Approved the transfer of Brooke Reynolds from math teacher at Cairo High School to C.H.S. assistant principal for instruction.