Updated on 1/12/21 to include results from the Board of Trustees vote.
The Greenville County Schools Board of Trustees voted on Tuesday, Jan. 12 to vote on two recommendations from the school district during a special called meeting, including the extension of COVID-19 leave until August 2021 and a bonus for all school district employees.
Both motions passed unanimously with one board member out sick.
“With the exception of healthcare, I believe the COVID pandemic has had a greater impact on education than maybe any other segment of society,” said GCS Superintendent Burke Royster in a statement last week announcing the proposal. “Our employees have been asked to innovate on a dime, learn, implement and monitor extensive protocols and procedures, selflessly respond to the basic needs of the community, create previously unknown attendance options, and serve as counselors and comforters, while fulfilling their duties using multiple in-person and remote platforms. All these have been accomplished while trusting that the protocols and mitigation factors we have in place are sufficient to protect them, their families, and their students.”
The leave extension will be funded through coronavirus relief funding from the school district. It will go into effect retroactively since the previous leave policy expired on Dec. 31.
The board also voted for one-time bonuses of $1,000 for its salaried and hourly employees — a number around 10,000. The adjunct staff that work only a few hours a week will receive $100. Overall, the bonuses will cost the district over $11 million and will be paid for by unused funding from the fiscal year 2020.
The original plan had school district non-exempt employees receiving a $500 bonus due to the work they’ve put in during the pandemic and exempt employees — those not eligible for overtime — receiving $1,000. Part-time employees would have received a partial bonus.
Speaking about the school district staff at Tuesday’s meeting, Board Chair Lynda Leventis-Wells said, “I think we need to acknowledge their service, their commitment, and that they understand that we care. We hear them. We care about them.”