All 2,432 Wilson County Schools employees will receive a $1,000 bonus paid in June, the board approved unanimously at its monthly meeting on Monday night.
Part of the money -- $768,000 -- will come from Basic Education Program funding, which the district receives from the state. The remainder will come from monies received by the district from federal funding.
Those not getting the bonus include board members, Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright, non-faculty volunteers, non-faculty coaches, private duty nurses who are not WCS employees and those with whom WCS contracts.
Wright recommended the bonus, which is a one-time only stipend and will not be a raise, to the board at Monday’s meeting. She said the past year was “pretty rough. There’s not been a year like this year.”
“I’m sure this will raise eyebrows,” Wright told the board. “But I’ve never had a year like this one. No other school district in Tennessee has endured what we have. We started out with the tornado and then two weeks later, the pandemic hit.
“As much as everybody tried to come up with solutions, there was no right answer. Folks in Wilson County never cease to amaze me, how quickly they stepped outside their job responsibilities to do what was needed.”
WCS Finance Director Michael Smith said that the budget workshops will need to begin this month and that they entire budget must be sent to the county commission before its May 24 meeting.
The meeting was recessed so that the board possibly can discuss the situation with Travelers Insurance about rebuilding costs for West Wilson Middle and Stoner Creek Elementary schools.
Eighth graders to get high school credits
Students in eighth grade in WCS schools will have more of an opportunity to take high school credit classes.
Dr. Jennifer Cothron, WCS Schools Deputy Director of Testing and Accountability, reported to the board that there are a number of ways the district is looking at improving opportunities to get the high school credits.
“We’re rethinking our middle school curriculum,” she said. “It’s going to offer more advance opportunities for students. Those classes are more aligned with studies in high school.”
Currently, eighth graders are offered Algebra I for high school credit. Classes that are being considered to make available for eighth graders will be honors agriscience, computer science foundations, computer apps and world language, such as Spanish.
Bus drivers still needed
WCS Transportation Director Jerry Partlow gave a report about the need for additional bus drivers.
Because of signing bonuses and higher pay with private companies, many drivers with Commercial Driver’s Licenses are going to work for the private companies rather than with school districts, Partlow said.
He said that every day, there are 46 single routes, 185 double routes and seven midday routes. There are 123 active drivers, 13 of which are teacher-drivers.
“Approximately 10 percent of our drivers are teachers,” Partlow said, adding there are two substitute drivers, 10 coaches who have CDLs and drive only their players to games, 26 bus aides and 10 office personnel, half of whom have CDLs.
There are routes that don’t have a bus driver “every day,” he said. “We had 10 (routes) down today.”
Partlow said the district may need to look at increasing the pay of drivers. Currently, driver’s pay starts at $17 per hour and goes as high as $25 per hour.
Getting benefits doesn’t seem to be as important, Wright said, noting that the drivers have the opportunity to use the WCS health clinic, but not many of the drivers do.