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$1,500 in new bonuses approved by school board

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Employees of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools will be getting another $1,500 bonus.

In one of their last actions before their terms expire, school board members unanimously approved spending $12 million in federal COVID-relief money for 8,000 eligible employees. A new board takes over on Dec. 6.

The bonuses will be given to all full-time staff employed as of Dec. 5 who are committed to staying in their position until the end of the school year. A $500 installment will be paid on Dec. 16 and a second installment of $1,000 will be paid on Jan. 13.

The money is being spread out for a reason.

The school district plans to pay employees their monthly salaries on Dec. 22 rather than the end of the month to help them cover holiday expenses.

“By the time they get to January, they will want something before Jan. 30,” Superintendent Tricia McManus said.

That second installment is strategically timed to help tide them over until the end of the month, she said.

The N.C. Department of Instruction has already approved the funds, known as the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief fund (ESSER). School districts across the state, including the local district, say the bonuses are needed to reward and retain staff members in the wake of the pandemic.

That pot of money will run out in 2024.

Since August, 216 employees have resigned, according to Chief Finance Officer Thomas Kranz.

This is the second round of bonuses since the start of the school year. In August, employees received a bonus of $1,000.

Last year, the school district gave employees a series of bonuses using those relief funds.

McManus said that other large districts are issuing another round of bonuses.

“With the challenges we’re continuing to face, it’s a good way to go,” McManus said. “After ESSER, this will not be an option. We’re honestly showing our employees we value them and need to keep them beyond this school year and beyond.”

The meeting was the last for six members — Dana Caudill Jones, Elisabeth Motsinger, Marilyn Parker, Andrea Bramer and Malishai Woodbury chose not to run for re-election. Woodbury recently won a seat on the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners. Lida Calvert-Hayes lost in the Republican primary.

Democrats Alex Bohannon and Deanna Kaplan and Republican Leah Crowley won their re-election bids. They and six new board members — Democrats Trevonia Brown-Gaither, Richard Watts, Sabrina Coone-Godfrey and Republicans Robert Barr, Susan Miller and Steve Wood — will take their oaths of office at the board’s next meeting on Dec. 6.

The departing board members were recognized on Tuesday.

McManus mentioned some of the board’s accomplishments in the two years that she has been in the district. They include closing and reopening schools during the pandemic, opening Lewisville Middle School, buying land for new Ashley and Brunson elementary schools and establishing a new code of student conduct.

“It’s been an incredible two years and it has not gone without challenges, but I could always count on every one of you to vote your heart and mind and what you thought was best for kids,” McManus said.

Woodbury said the challenges the board went through bonded them.

“I truly believe we are forever connected as people. We’ve gone through a lot,” she said. “It has made me personally a better Shai Woodbury.”

Bramer wished the new board luck.

“This is a hard job, but stick with it,” she said. “It’s worth it.”

336-727-7420

@lisaodonnellWSJ

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