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School employees to receive bonuses
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School system employees will be getting bonuses this year, although the amount will not be as much as first hoped.
“We will be able to give bonuses in the range of $500 to $600 for all employees,” said Director of Schools Bobby Cox during a Thursday meeting of the Warren County Board of Education.
The bonuses, which will be given to employees in November, come as part of a proposed compromise between the School Board and Warren County Commission. As recently as last week, the board hoped it could provide a bonus of $800 to $900.
The board had first asked the County Commission to provide funding for permanent raises for all school employees, a plan that would have cost nearly $1 million every year. The idea would have likely forced a property tax increase.
The County Commission approved this year’s county budget without the tax increase, in essence shooting down the proposed pay raises. However, members of the commission offered to pick up the bill on some of the improvements to school grounds, thereby allowing the school system to move money out of its improvement fund and dedicate it to bonuses.
“The commission has said it will do a one-time increase in capital outlay,” Cox said.
The outlay notes will be used for the school system’s security package and will include about $350,000 in expenditures, including $141,000 for security fencing, $53,000 for door locks, $70,000 for alarm upgrades, and $49,000 in fire safety upgrades. Cox said the school system was also able to scrape together money to add to the bonuses.
“We wish it could be more,” Cox noted, pointing out school officials were meeting the County Commission halfway.
The use of school funds, however, leaves the school system close to the edge should there be an emergency since the state requires it to keep 3 percent of its coming year’s budget in savings. School Board chairman Bill Zechman said with the bonuses there is just enough to satisfy the state requirement.
“If there’s any kind of emergency expenditure, we’re going to have to go back to the County Commission for more capital outlay,” Zechman said, adding there could be a chance of giving school employees a little more next spring.
Specifically, Zechman pointed to energy savings at the schools. If employees are able to come in below projections for energy spending in the budget, Zechman said there is a chance the school could distribute those savings in the form of a spring bonus.
While getting bonuses this year, it was pointed out insurance rates for employees will be going up 5 percent in the coming year, thereby somewhat offsetting the one-time bonus.
While raises were shot down, the School Board agreed to continue trying to figure out a way to make the pay increases permanent.