CAIRO — Grady County School System employees will likely see a $1,500 retention bonus in the upcoming school year.
Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard made the recommendation to the school board during a budget meeting Tuesday. It was held prior to the board’s regular meeting.
Gilliard and Dan Broome, the school’s chief financial officer, discussed the fiscal year 2022 budget with board members.
The fiscal year actually began on July 1, but Gilliard said they do not like to finalize the budget until they get tax information from the county. The board, during its regular meeting, approved a spending resolution for July.
School employees would receive the bonus in three $500 payments, on Nov. 24, Jan. 31 and March 31. It would go to all full-time employees. Part-time employees will $250 on each of those dates.
Final approval for the retention bonus would still need to come from the board in a later meeting.
“The message we want broadcast through this budget is that everyone employed by the system is equally important,” Gilliard said. “We can’t make the system work without each person, and we want them to know we value them.
“The $1,500 retention supplement is a way of showing our employees that they are important to our system and that we need them to be part of our team.”
Gilliard and Broome also announced the following recommendations that are included in the budget:
• While the teacher salary schedule would remain unchanged, the local supplement would be increased by $500.
• The bus driver local supplements would be increased $250 to $375.
• Paraprofessionals, clerical and custodian salaries would see a 7% to 17% pay increase.
• Nurse salaries would see a 27% to 33% pay increase.
• Teacher retirement match would increase from 19.06% to 19.81%.
Due to a drop in the number of students, state funding for the upcoming budget dropped by $800,000. Broome said he estimates that will leave the school system $750,000 short. The school system will use CARES Act funds to cover as much of that as possible. Reserves will be used to cover the rest.
Gilliard also discussed the school system’s plans for COVID-19 in the upcoming year. In addition to following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on masks, busing and transportation, physical distancing, food service and quarantine and contact tracing, Gilliard said in a news release:
• Students 13 and older will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine provided their parent signs a form requesting the vaccine. The school system and the Grady County Health Department, in conjunction with the director of the Southwest Georgia Health District, will provide that opportunity.
• Virtual school will be limited to those students who were successful in that learning environment or at school in 2020-21. Tribunals can place students in virtual schooling students that need Hospital Homebound services may use virtual school.
• Assistant Superintendent Tilda Brimm, who has been with the school system, turned in her resignation to Gilliard on Monday. Gilliard said the school system would wait to fill that position.
• 20 percent of the American Rescue Act funds that are coming to the school system have to be used to try to make up for the loss of learning during the pandemic. Gilliard said they would like to hire up to 30 paraprofessionals with those funds.
• The board approved an additional $201,080.63 for the construction at Eastside Elementary.
• Grady County school students will be required to use a clear or mesh book bag in the upcoming school year.
"We are making the change to clear or mesh bookbags due to safety concerns. Last school year, CHS has two instances where a handgun was discovered in a bookbag," Gilliard said. "Mr. (Chris) Lokey, CHS principal and Chief Allen Powell, school resource officer, discussed with our administrators and recommended the change. The board was supportive of changing to clear or mesh bookbags. I realize that a handgun can still be brought to school, however, I want as many deterrents as possible to keep our students and staff safe."
Kevin Price can be reached at 229-226-2400, ext. 1820