EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Utilizing CARES Act funds, a plan was presented this month for the Board of Education to institute “Retention Pay” for classified employees who make less than $12 per hour.
According to Superintendent Dr. Brian Ridley, the CFO and Director of Finance, Trina Penland presented the idea originally when considering the CARES Act Funds.
Additionally, this plan also includes raising substitutes up to $12 per hour as base rate as well as moving Bus Drivers who drive for field trips to $15 per hour for that field trip rate.
The Board of Education (BOE) retreated to executive session during their regular meeting, and added this item to the agenda after returning. Pushing these positions’ pay higher is a temporary application of funds, but the Board of Education is hoping to utilize it as a stop-gap moving forward.
While this helps with job retention now, Dr. Ridley also stated this temporary bonus would allow the system to revamp the classified pay schedule. The school system is attempting to be more competitive for employees.
The cost of this increase is estimated at just over $306,400 per year. Dr. Ridley noted that the utilization of these funds and implementing the temporary bonus will give the board two years to accomplish this goal to revamp the schedule.
This is not the first response to issues with staffing for the school system. Bus Drivers, specifically, have had numerous issues over the years and seen several attempts to respond and rectify the issue. In 2017, the Board of Education at the time discussed incentives and bonuses for bus drivers including a $500 sign-on bonus for new drivers after completion of their CDL’s and 6-months of successful employment with the school system. Current Board Members Ronald Watkins and Michael Bramlett were on the board at that time and a part of that discussion.
However, the Board of Education has not been the only county dealing with the issues as both former Board Member Tom Ocobock and former Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes reported that counties all over Georgia were having the same issues then. Today, staffing issues affect every business and government entity with restaurants continuing to close early and at odd times due to shortages, retail businesses operating on “skeleton crews,” and even governments like Gilmer County who haven’t been fully staffed in months or even a year for some.