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School board considering additional summer bonuses, but more research needed

Teachers working Beaufort County Schools’ state-mandated summer program are set to receive a $1,500 bonus as an incentive for choosing to give up part of their summer break. Now, the district is researching if and how it can provide bonuses to other staff members working the program — including teacher assistants, janitors, nutrition workers, administrative workers and others.

The summer program is set to begin June 21. Certified teachers working the program will be paid $40 per hour in addition to the $1,500 bonus. Teacher assistants will make $20 per hour. Bonuses of at least $1,200 for certified teachers are required by law, and no bonuses are required for teacher assistants.

Earlier in June, school board member Terry Williams said teacher assistants should receive some kind of bonus, considering they just weathered a tumultuous school year alongside the certified teachers. That ultimately led to a larger discussion later in the month about which positions throughout the district are interacting in some way with the summer program, and therefore are deserving of a bonus.

During a meeting Tuesday, while discussing implementing a potential $425 for teacher assistants working the summer program, the school board considered whether summer positions such as bus drivers, custodians and school nutrition workers should be included on the list of bonus recipients.

“You’re going to have to keep going down the list — your media coordinators, your data managers,” Superintendent Matthew Cheeseman said. “It’s not just in the four schools (hosting summer classes). You’re going to have data managers in every school that have to track those schools’ populations. You’re going to have people in the annex that are doing work.

“There’s a greater comprehensive list that I’d need to bring back to you to know exactly what those numbers are for each of those positions that are related to summer school.”

The host schools for the summer classes are Chocowinity Primary School, John Small Elementary School, P.S. Jones Middle School and Northeast Elementary School.

“When it comes to custodians and your school nutrition staff, some are automatically excluded because I selected those four schools based off of our needs,” Cheeseman said.

The school board agreed with Cheeseman’s request to give him time to research how many positions are connected with the summer program. He mentioned a one-time, $1,500 COVID-19 supplement the school system gave to every full-time BCS employee earlier this year. Part-time employees received a prorated portion of that amount.

“That $1,500 COVID supplement that was given to every single employee; you didn’t miss any of them,” Cheeseman said. “But in this moment, without the deep knowledge (regarding summer school positions), you’re going to miss someone.”
The summer program bonuses will be dispersed in August, so Cheeseman has some time to research and bring his findings back to the school board.