By Greg Oliver

The Journal

EASLEY — Although unable to give salary increases in its fiscal 2020-21 budget due to the impact of COVID-19, the Pickens County School Board on Friday morning unanimously approved a one-time bonus to all of the district’s nearly 2,600 employees.

During a special called meeting, the board accepted a recommendation by chief financial officer Clark Webb to award employees with the district since Aug. 24, 2020, with a one-time bonus. The employees work through payroll, agency contacts or Kudzu Staffing, a staffing agency through which the district hires all of its substitutes. 

“This one-time bonus is to show appreciation to each employee,” Webb said.

District budgeting coordinator Matt Owens said eligible employees “have been available to work all required days, and employees would be counted once, even if they are in multiple positions.”

“For example, if you have a teacher who is also a coach, under our proposal, they would just receive the $150 net amount there,” Owens said. “It wouldn’t be a combination of those two items together.”

The bonuses include $150 for all full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, school resource officers and agency contract workers in budgeted FTE positions, as well as Kudzu Staffing contract positions, floating substitutes and special vacancy workers. Hourly employees like bus companions, substitute bus drivers and English Speakers of Other Languages instructors will receive $75. Afterschool care workers and those who only receive coaching adjunct supplements will receive $50, while all daily sub positions staffed through Kudzu will get $25.

The raises were approved without changing the district’s $128.7 million budget or its fund balance.

Trustee Phillip Bowers of Six Mile recommended the district use more than $84,000 in board contingency funding instead of district contingency funding so that Webb could use the district contingency funds in the event of an emergency. The board then gave unanimous approval to Bowers’ amended motion. 

Webb said his office would work to get the bonus out to employees in December, prior to Christmas break.

Trustee Betty Garrison said she was thrilled the district could give employees a small token of appreciation.

“I’m sad that we can’t do more,” Garrison said. “But this is a symbolic show of our appreciation for the dedication of our employees and all that they’ve done under really tough situations. I appreciate Mr. Webb and Mr. Owen for their dedication in figuring all this out and coming to this consensus.”

Chairman Shannon Haskett agreed, adding, “Thank you members of the board for continuing to invest in our incredible people. I appreciate that.”

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