Bonus checks coming for school workers

By Jeff Linville -

DOBSON — Hundreds of county school employees will receive a late Christmas bonus, thanks to a plan enacted by Surry County Schools.

Over the summer, the state General Assembly, through the budget bill HB 1030, approved a one-time fund to provide a bonus to school personnel. This did not include teachers (as that funding was discussed in a different section of the bill), but did include folks like central office workers, teaching assistants, maintenance workers, custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

One caveat of the funding was that the school system couldn’t just spread the money around to every non-teaching position; this had to be a merit bonus. However, school districts were allowed to set the criteria by which they would give out the bonuses. That criteria had to be sent to the state by the end of November.

For Surry County Schools, the Board of Education made a decision to exclude central office and school-based administrators so that it could give a better bonus to the other employees, according to Sonia Dickerson, director of communications.

In order to be eligible employees had to be employed for at least six months, with no break in service, during the past 2015-16 school year, said Dickerson. They also had to be in good standing with no negative personnel actions and/or unsatisfactory employee evaluation.

The district doesn’t have an amount of the bonus yet. If the plan is approved by the state, the system will get the equivalent of about 300 bonuses. However, as many of the eligible workers are part-time or have a reduced work schedule, the bonuses will be prorated; that reduced payout will allow the schools to spread the bonus money around to as many as 450 employees.

Surry County Schools is the largest employer in the county with more than 1,200 employees.

Funds must be paid during the 2016-17 school fiscal year. With approval of the plan, county school leaders plan to pay out the bonuses by the end of January.

• Mount Airy City Schools has submitted a plan to the state as well, but hasn’t revealed any details about the criteria so far. The central office stated that, pending approval, the plan is to pay out the bonuses in February. Once the approval is given, the city district will announce how the funding will be distributed.

By Jeff Linville

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

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