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BCS examining summer pay for teacher assistants

Certified teachers are already set to receive a $1,500 bonus as an incentive for signing up for Beaufort County Schools’ upcoming summer school program. Now, the district is looking at ways to potentially provide a financial boost for teacher assistants who chose to participate.

The summer program is mandated by the state. It is geared toward students whose academic performance suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beaufort County Schools is paying certified teachers $40 per hour to teach summer courses. Teacher assistants are set to make $20 per hour. School districts are required to offer certified teachers a bonus of at least $1,200 for signing up, but no bonuses are required or suggested for teacher assistants.

“I’m not saying (teacher assistants) should get a $1,500 bonus,” school board member Terry Williams said during a meeting Tuesday. “Am I the only one who thinks they should get something?

“… I’m definitely not against the teachers getting bonuses, let’s make that clear,” Williams added. “I’m not against anything that’s getting paid that’s in the package now. My question is about what’s not in the package.”

In deciding to offer summer program teachers an elevated hourly wage and a signing bonus $300 above the state-mandated amount, administrators have noted that many teachers and staff members are “COVID-tired.” Williams said teacher assistants have also dealt with the volatility of the past year, and they deserve an incentive for giving up part of their summer.

Superintendent Matthew Cheeseman said he will survey fellow administrators in the Northeast Regional Educational Service Alliance to see how they are compensating teacher assistants working in their summer programs. He will report his findings to the school board.

Beaufort County’s program will run from June 21 – July 30. The program will consist of 150 hours of instruction.