Among several action items, the Warren County School Board on Wednesday, Nov. 2, approved new hourly wages for bus drivers who perform extra driving for Warren County Public Schools (WCPS).
At its meeting, the school board voted 4 to 0 to increase the current hourly rate from $14 to $20 for bus drivers who cover transportation of WCPS students and employees to and from sporting and other events. activities. School board president Kristen Pence and board members Antoinette Funk, Andrea Lo and Melanie Salins were on hand to vote. Board Vice Chairman Ralph Rinaldi was absent this week.
“We are experiencing a shortage of after-hours travel drivers for activities and field trips,” said WCPS Assistant Superintendent for Administration George “Buck” Smith, who pointed out that the current rate $14 per hour from WCPS is not even close to the contractual hourly rate of a bus driver with zero years of experience who starts working at WCPS for $19.64 per hour.
“Our current hourly rate for activity trips and field trips…requires our drivers to work overtime at a significantly reduced rate from the starting wage rate,” Smith said. “It’s no longer attractive for after-hours activity driving.”
Smith also noted that surrounding counties have adjusted bus driver travel rates. For example, Shenandoah County Public Schools pay $20 per hour and Frederick County Public Schools pay $20.75 per hour.
“This adjustment will greatly help us recruit after-hours drivers to meet the needs of our students for their extracurricular activities,” he told the School Board.
Following a motion from Lo to approve, with a second from Salins, the motion passes.
In addition, the School Board unanimously approved updates to salary scale supplements and certain employee bonuses.
However, “the school division has realized savings in the budget through late pay, staff turnover, and current vacancies to date, which will now allow the supplements to be issued,” Goodwin said.
The following supplements will be awarded to specific WCPS employees: Assistant College Principals receive a $5,000 supplement, Teaching Resource Team members receive a $2,500 supplement, and Dean of Students receives a $5,000 supplement. $2,500.
The final adjustment to the 2022-2023 scales is the addition of the PhD supplement to the 30th year/therapist scale to align the scale with all other scale supplements, Goodwin said.
After the meeting, Pence explained in an email that there was no increase in funding for this school year’s budget from the Warren County Board of Supervisors (BOS). “The funds discussed at tonight’s meeting were all the result of things like staff turnover and vacancies,” she wrote in an email late Wednesday.
“We voted to use money already in our budget and earmarked by the county to continue funding portions of our approved WCPS exercise. [fiscal year] 2022-2023 budget that was withheld due to lack of full funding,” Pence wrote, adding that the BOS did not approve $1.2 million of the budget requested by WCPS.
Likewise, the school board unanimously approved a one-time $500 bonus for part-time WCPS employees employed on Oct. 31, according to WCPS Superintendent Christopher Ballenger.
The total cost of $14,532.75 to provide the one-time bonuses for 27 part-time employees, including cafeteria helpers, driver helpers, an assistant athletic director, an English teacher, a secretary and two teachers vocational and technical education, will be covered by savings from staff turnover in the operating fund budget and the existing balance in the cafeteria fund, according to WCPS.
At the same time, the approved state budget for fiscal year 2023 and WCPS’ approved budget for fiscal year 2023 included funding for a $1,000 bonus to be paid to full-time employees, said Ballenger, who added that payment of this bonus — which is also for eligible staff employed on October 31 — is scheduled for November 21.
In addition, the school board unanimously approved:
1.) Two separate 36 month contracts be awarded to Document Solutions Inc. for the rental of photocopiers to Skyline High School for $99,720 and to Skyline Middle School for $71,604.
2.) A membership payment of $17,521.49 for WCPS to continue participating in the Laurel Ridge Educational Consortium, a collaborative effort between Laurel Ridge Community College, WCPS and several surrounding school districts (Fauquier, Frederick, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and the City of Winchester) which provides local access to professional development training for all staff in the school system. Pence: first addendum to Superintendent’s contract = source of budget will come from deferred compensation and staff turnover. Lawyer contacted for review.
3.) An addendum to the Superintendent’s contract regarding annual, sick and personal leave.
4.) Acceptance with gratitude of donations to the Skyline Middle School Library consisting of 50 books from Play Favorites, $500 from Consistent Voice Communications, and $50 from SSMG Concierge.
Johnson said government officials, academics and a national author will attend the event, presided over by Pastor Allan Morrison of Christ Reigns Presbyterian Church in Winchester, Virginia. The opening prayer will be delivered by the Reverend Marc Roberson of Riverton Methodist Church, followed by the display of the colors by the James Wood II Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Students from Dominion Ridge Academy in Front Royal will conduct the Pledge of Allegiance.
The bridge over the North Fork is named the General Daniel Morgan and Veterans’ Memorial Bridge. The bridge over the South Fork is called Major General Dr. Joseph Warren and Veterans Bridge.
“I am delighted that the Board of Overseers approved the designation of the bridges to include all veterans, from the Revolution to the present day and into the future,” Johnson said in a related statement.
Events to come
A cyberbullying forum is being held Thursday night, 6-8 p.m., in the auditorium at Warren County High School, which board chairman Pence said “is very much needed.” WCPS staff are organizing the event in conjunction with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. WCPS Director of Special Services Michael Hirsch told the Royal Examiner this morning that other forums will be offered to provide support to the community. There will be a presentation followed by breakout sessions with information on parental controls, monitoring and other advice offered by the Sheriff’s Office and WCPS Guidance Counselors. Just for the record: there is also a regional semi-final volleyball match at the school.
In his report, Ballenger said there was no school on Tuesday or Friday of next week for Election Day and Veterans Day, which are held on Nov. 8 and 11, respectively. Classes will normally take place on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week. Thanksgiving lunch will be held at all schools on November 17.
The joint school board and BOS budget committee will meet again in December, and Funk said members will begin work on next year’s budget for the school division. She said committee members could not meet jointly in October or November.
To watch the November 2 school board meeting in its entirety, go to https://wcps.new.swagit.com/videos/187812.