By Diana Matthews
Whiteville’s board of education voted on May 10 to give classified city schools employees a larger bonus this year than originally budgeted.
“Providing a pay supplement is one way we reward and retain classified staff,” Superintendent Kenny Garland said. The bonus pay consists of local money added to the base pay provided by the state to school system employees in North Carolina.
Principals attending the monthly school board meeting broke into applause at the unanimous vote. “Thank you on behalf of my teachers and support staff,” said Susan Smith of North Whiteville Academy. “I know I’m out of line (by speaking out from the audience), but that means a lot to them and their families.”
Classified staff includes teacher aides, secretaries, custodians, cafeteria workers and bus drivers. Previously, classified staff members were set to receive a 2.5 percent supplement. The raise will take their supplement up to 3.5 percent.
Meanwhile, certified or licensed staff, including teachers, principals, assistant principals, nurses, counselors and departmental directors, will receive the same 5 percent supplement that they have received in past years.
The increase to 3.5 percent “is huge,” Smith said. For one thing, classified personnel are a large proportion of the entire staff, she said. For another, “The superintendent recognizes how hard our classified staff members work. Any time you recognize the value of someone’s position, that means a lot.”
All five members of the board expressed pleasure at being able to pass along some of the schools’ fund balance to support personnel, and they commended Garland for managing the system’s funds conservatively.