The finance committee of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education voted Monday to support giving teachers, certified support staff and classified employees more money in the coming weeks.
Absent from the discussion was any mention of a salary adjustment for some of the highest paid employees in the school district.
Superintendent Angela Hairston recommended last week that the school board adjust the salary schedule for several positions in her executive cabinet to recruit and retain talent, including, in some cases, local principals who make more money than central office supervisors.
That recommendation came up against a wall of resistance from school board members, several of whom said that classified employees should not be left behind. The district has been trying to come up with a new salary schedule for classified employees for more than a year.
Last week’s recommendation to bump compensation for the executive staff was packaged with salary recommendations for teachers and certified support staff and a 3% bonus for classified employees, which includes child nutrition workers and bus drivers. They are among the lowest-paid positions in the district.
As a result, the recommendation was tabled. At Monday’s specially called meeting, the agenda did not include any mention of executive compensation.
Instead, finance committee members recommended a $2,000 across-the-board increase for teachers and support staff, which includes such positions as speech pathologist and social worker. That amount is $1,285 more than last year. It is the result of the quarter-cent sales tax that voters passed in March.
The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved $11 million to cover that cost. Because of COVID-19, the amount of revenue generated by the sales tax could fluctuate.
County commissioners declined to cover a 3% salary increase for classified employees and reduced school funding by $2.8 million. In addition, a $5.4 million drop in the district’s fund balance has created challenges in finding money to increase the salary of classified employees.
“The current classified compensation schedule we have is not in line with their market value, and we understand that,” Hairston said. “But I don’t think anybody knew what we were going to go through.”
The finance committee approved a 3% lump-sum bonus to be paid at the end of November for classified employees at a cost of $3 million. For an employee who makes $30,000, that comes to $900.
The bonus will act as a sort of bridge until a new salary schedule is completed and passed by the board, which could happen in February or March.
The money will come from savings related to the shutdown of schools.
Board member Deanna Kaplan asked if there was enough money for a 5% bonus.
“Right now, all we can find is $3 million,” said Andrea Gillus, the district’s chief financial officer. “It’s hard to say where things are going to be as we talk about reopening. We don’t know what it’s going to cost us. We do know that we have identified $3 million.”
Kaplan asked about including a 4% bonus in a motion, but Hairston said that would likely result in layoffs.
Hairston suggested the committee review a possible bump in the bonus after schools reopen and a new audit shows the district’s fund balance.
“For me to commit to 4%, it would be time to relieve some employees,” she said.
The full school board will need to approve the new salary schedule and classified bonus at its next meeting.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.