School board approves same incentives for all full-time workers

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More pay is coming the way of Knox County teachers and staff.

The Knox County Schools Board of Education voted unanimously during its Wednesday meeting to give a one-time $1,000 payment to all full-time employees, rather than just a fraction of them as was initially proposed.

“A thousand dollars for all employees, we would certainly support that,” Knox County School Superintendent Bob Thomas said.

The incentives would mean an additional $1.4 million out of the schools’ general fund on top of the $4.8 million budgeted initially to give certified staff workers a pay incentive.

Last week, Thomas spoke to the School Board about giving a mid-year incentive, calling it an “incentive” instead of a bonus to avoid a steeper 25% tax rate.

The state had approved a critical pay incentive for school employees that gave around $2.4 million, but that only extended to certified staff and would have given each qualified employee around $500, he said.

Thomas said he felt like all Knox County employees deserved more. He then suggested that certified full-time staff should be given $1,000 while those who were classified should get $500.

Angela Lawson, a teacher’s assistant at Gibbs Elementary, came before the board and told them about her own struggles. She said she had “two jobs” for Knox County, one as a teacher’s assistant and the other as a substitute teacher.

“I save you $80 a day,” Lawson said.

After Lawson spoke, Thomas told the School Board that both certified and classified staff had “worked so hard” over the course of the school year while facing the pandemic conditions.

“We thought we needed to provide a bonus to classified as well,” Thomas said.

The incentive for part-time employees, though, will be different. The board voted to instead give them a prorated incentive.

Ron McPherson, assistant superintendent and chief financial officer, told the board that the one-time incentive would not affect any salary increases for the 2021-2022 fiscal year budget. The school system will soon start working on the new budget so it’s ready for the county’s July 1 deadline.

“This does not imperil salary increases later this year,” he said.

Board members asked him how long it will take the extra pay to start hitting school worker’s bank accounts.

Thomas said there would be no hesitation.

“We’re going to do that ASAP,” he said.

McPherson agreed and said the checks would not be going out later than April.

“We would do all we could to get this out in a timely manner,” McPherson told the board.

Contact Cliff Hightower at cliffhightower@hardknoxwire.com.

Published on March 11, 2021