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July 4, 2020

Rowan-Salisbury Schools considering premium pay for more workers

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY – Technology, custodial and maintenance workers with Rowan-Salisbury Schools could become the next group of workers for the district to benefit from premium pay for frontline workers.

The proposed change, brought up during a called meeting of the RSS Board of Education on Thursday, would reduce the work schedule of those workers from four 10-hour days to four eight-hour days for the same pay, adding up to eight hours less total.

Workers involved with meal delivery and distribution have already been given premium pay as a way to increase retention during the pandemic. Schedules for those workers were reduced from five days to three.

The topic was not originally on the meeting’s agenda, and board chair Kevin Jones said the board should stick to the purpose of the meeting listed on the agenda.

“I think that sounds like a fine plan moving forward,” Jones said. “I think we probably need to stay CARES Act specific.”

Jones asked if the proposal could be added to the board’s work session agenda on June 8.

Board attorney Ken Soo said the board could approve the change retroactively, but Chief Financial Officer Carol Herndon said it would be difficult for scheduling. Until the measure was approved, the district would have those employees work the standard summer schedule of four 10-hour days, Herndon said.

Jones said he wanted to stick to what was advertised for the meeting but that he saw the benefit of approving the change immediately. Susan Cox made a motion to make the change for premium pay, but after some discussion, she withdrew the motion.

Board member Dean Hunter said he was not comfortable voting on something the board was hearing about for the first time during a special meeting.

Soo advised that Superintendent Lynn Moody could approve the change as a temporary measure

“I think there’s a reasonable argument that the superintendent could go ahead and make this interim emergency measure given what these employees have done for the school system at risk to themselves during this pandemic,” Soo said.

Herndon said the forgiven time would not cost the district more money.

Jones advised Moody and Herndon that they should act within their bounds to take appropriate action and the board should look at approval on June 8. Jones also pointed out board member Josh Wagner could not attend the meeting and did not know the issue would be brought up.

Board member Jean Kennedy said she did not like the way the measure was being handled by authority she felt the board chair did not have, while she had no problem tabling the issue.

Jones said his concern was not the content of the measure, just that it was not published as part of the agenda and his understanding the called meeting could not go beyond the agenda.

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