CARTERET COUNTY SCHOOLS SIGN (NEW)

BEAUFORT — All Carteret County public school employees will receive a $500 stipend thanks to federal funds provided to school systems to help with impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The county school system will receive about $20 million in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Stabilization, or ESSERS, funds over the next three years, according to Superintendent Dr. Rob Jackson.

During the County Board of Education meeting, held Tuesday in the school system’s central office on Safrit Drive, Dr. Jackson said the system already received the first $1.65 million allotment earlier in the school year. Those funds must be spent by Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.

“We should have all of those funds spent by the end of this school year,” he said.

That money was used to purchase personal protective equipment and digital resources, hire contract nurses and for a learning management system. Although not part of the ESSERS allotment, the school system also received $3.3 million in state funds to assist with needs created by the pandemic.

Dr. Jackson said he was recently notified the system is set to receive $6.1 million as part of a second allotment of ESSERS II funds and another $13.83 million in a third wave of ESSERS III funds. All funds must be used to offset impacts of the pandemic.

He said administration must submit a budget on how the ESSERS II funds will be spent to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction by Sunday, May 9. The money must be spent by September 2023. As for the third wave of money, Dr. Jackson didn’t say when that spending plan must be submitted. He did say the funds must be spent by 2024, and 20% of that money must be used to address “learning loss.”

The superintendent and his staff are currently developing a budget plan for how the $6.1 million in ESSERS II money will be spent. He presented a long list of items being considered and invited board members to give suggestions. He plans to present a finalized budget proposal for board approval at the Tuesday, May 4 meeting.

Among the items being considered was the $500 stipend for all employees, which board members enthusiastically endorsed. Member Dennis Goodwin made the motion to go ahead and approve the stipend as part of the spending plan.

“Because they have six more weeks of school and they have all worked tirelessly, we want them to know now how much we appreciate them,” Mr. Goodwin said.

Brittany Wheatly agreed and provided the second, with the motion passing unanimously.

The total cost of providing the $500 stipend to all employees is $711,315. That includes the matching Social Security and retirement costs.

There are many things to consider as the board decides on the other items for the second wave of spending, Dr. Jackson said.

First, the six-week summer learning program that will be offered to students in grades kindergarten through 12 is mandatory, he pointed out.

“We have been instructed to use ESSERS funds for the six-week summer program,” he said.

Other suggestions he and an administrative planning team are considering include funding a two-year Chromebook replacement program at an estimated cost of $2.7 million, a math curriculum support program at $326,778, another curriculum support program known as Fundations at $80,000, reduce class sizes in grades four through 12, add additional teacher assistants and eliminate teacher assistant furlough days required each year.

Other possibilities include additional guidance counselors for middle and high schools, additional exceptional children’s teachers, additional academically and intellectually gifted instructors, a director and teachers for a virtual learning program, behavioral support specialists and air ionizers.

Dr. Jackson cautioned board members that the ESSERS funds are nonrecurring and if they hire additional personnel with those funds, they need to keep in mind they will eventually run out.

Board member Travis Day agreed.

“I love the idea of reducing class sizes and adding instructional staff, but how do we tackle keeping personnel after the funds run out?” he said.

Dr. Jackson said he has considered two options for how to deal with staff hires. First, the system could hire them under contract. Second, they could keep them as employees as other personnel retire and resign.

He added that it would be important to maintain clear communication with county commissioners, because while the school system will have additional funds for a certain time, that money won’t replace the other needs of the district provided through county funding.

 

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

(16) comments

David Collins

So good to see that the schools are so flush with cash . Did not know that anyone has drawn a short check . Guess they will now not need to cry for more money . Doubt that , the black hole is never satisfied . Not for a minute .

mpjeep

Another travesty or tragedy of justice…..stipend. Nothing to do with Merit when across the board bonuses are given out.

What about grocery store clerks, hardware store clerks, nurses, caregivers, etc.? Oh, never mind, they aren’t supported by taxpayers, but I’m sure they worked just as hard during the pandemic. As a matter of fact, these folks went to work when teachers didn’t.

Teachers are generally well compensated, and teacher pay and benefits have risen faster over time than compensation in private-sector jobs. Teachers quit their jobs at much lower rates than private-sector workers do, according to data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

drewski

The school board has no authority over groc clerks, or hardware store employees. contrary to your statement teachers have been working, and with an additional workload of responding to students via email. Starting pay for teachers is below natl avg in nc.

And finally $ 500. Does not go very far now a days. Candy bars are not a nickel, and gas is not .25 cents a gal.

Glad the teachers could get this small gesture from the board.

mpjeep

My statement said, if you reread it, that gro clerks etc are NOT under tax payers.

Teachers average about $54 k in NC. 2nd highest in south behind GA.

And I know a teacher that Did Not work some of the year last year due to Covid. Search DuckDuckGo!

David Collins

50k+ or - may be chicken feed to you but not to most , especially for 9 months work and job security on top . Throw in pretty much unaccountability and it is a pretty good gig . Try to beat it . There are good and bad but no difference when the pay checks roll in and roll in they do , uninterrupted . This largess is badly timed at best plus a bit insulting as well . Just saying .

drewski

I said starting pay, you are talking averages. 500 dollars 52 weeks in a yr.slightly less then Ten bucks a week is what you call largess?

I do understand teachers unions have been a constant theme on maga media. Perhaps that has influenced thinking so much that 10 bucks a week is somehow insulting?

DeadBolt

Given the fact that it was federal funds, which means they DRILLED AMERICA, not just local people this time, yea, its an issue. In point of fact i have 20 million good reasons to disregard these BAD ACTORS, question this SCAM, and hopefully watch it crumble into dust. These EXTORTIONISTS HAVE DRILLED AMERICA FOR OVER A YEAR. SO, LET ME SPEAK FOR ME, NO I DO NOT WANT A RED CENT GOING TO THESE FAKE CREATURES POSING AS TEACHERS. Especially your 10 bucks a week times 330 million TAXPAYERS.

mpjeep

Wow, you are the first one to stand in line against taxpayer money for school bonds and sales tax to help schools, but then you don’t mind taxpayer money for teacher bonuses. Sending mixed signals I guess.

drewski

The school bonds were promoted as for " future const needs "and to aquire land for same. A current tax for a future wish list is what I object to. A pittance for teachers who have had to adapt and teach via the internet during the covid I think as did the school board is well deserved.

(Edited by staff.)

David Collins

Not the amount but the principal of it all . I’ll gladly take $500 seeing that part of it is my money anyway .

drewski

Especially your 10 bucks a week times 330 million TAXPAYERS.

You are confusing population with taxpayers, and multiplication with division.

DeadBolt

Well, perhaps you can tell me which of the 330 million were drilled for this spending spree, you know division and multiplication, etc, because if you can't figure out that DC does not have a magic money tree, i think going beyond that point is useless with anyone.

Osprey

Teachers have had both in class AND online instruction the past year. The additional time required to do both is considerable. It is good to actually see some COVID money go towards something COVID related.

(Edited by staff.)

beachmami13

[thumbup]. Yes, they deserve at least that. There was a great deal more stress on teachers this year. 54 k is the average, but doesn't mean most are making that. The teachers I know all are overwhelmed by what's been expected this year & the challenges they've had.

David Collins

330 million taxpayers , well depends on your definition of a taxpayer . Sure , every dollar that is spent by the general public is taxed in some way these days but not necessarily in the direction of school funding . The actual number of souls that contribute to this grand farce is far fewer , and about to get even fewer but you know it .. It is , as usual , the overburdened productive working class that carries the water on this one . That water is being squandered at an ever increasing rate with precious little return on investment and boy is it showing . Never before have we had so many idiotic graduates that can’t think their way logically out of a wet paper bag . That is why we have become a net importer of our brawn as well as brains .

(Edited by staff.)

drewski

I know arithmetic, and that money tree is correctly named" the full faith and credit of the USA" because of dedicated and caring teachers.

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