BOE votes to give employees 2 percent salary adjustment

Liz Marino/Douglas County Sentinel Douglas County School System bus driver Don Crenshaw and a group of other bus drivers attended Monday night's school board meeting to discuss the need to attract and retain school bus drivers by better compensation and appreciation. He said that the school system is in "a dire situation" as far as bus drivers are concerned. "There is no incentive for people to come two work everyday," Crenshaw said.

Douglas County School System employees can expect to get a little something extra in their stockings for the holidays.

The Douglas County Board of Education voted Monday night to approve awarding a one-time compensation check in the amount of 2 percent to employees in December. The decision for the budget adjustment has been the financial performance of the school district in the prior year.

The recommendation was made following the completion of the 2017 June financial report, which comes at the end of the school system’s fiscal year.

The cost to the school system will be approximately $3 million.

According to Chief Financial Officer Greg Denney, the local tax collections for the year exceeded the budget by 6.97 percent. He said this was due in large part to the collection of unpaid taxes as well as Title Ad Valorem Tax (TAVT) true-up checks exceeding the budgeted amount.

He said that on the expenditure side, the budget was under-spent by 0.29 percent. The net effect is an increase in ending fund equity from $28.4 million to $33.8 million or an increase in $5.3 million.

Denney said that this places the board at the upper end of the desired fund balance range, which is between 10-15 percent of budgeted expenditures.

“We saved $5.3 million budgeted for this year,” he said.

However, ESPLOST funds generated $1.956 million during June, Denney said. This reflects a decrease of $83,383 or 4.04 percent lower than June 2016.

“This is eight months in a row that the ESPLOST check was down from last year,” he said.

The BOE also approved a request that lighting be installed at Chapel Hill High School’s tennis courts to allow the school to host tennis tournaments.

The low bid for the lighting was awarded to West Georgia Lighting at $98,917 and is being funded through ESPLOST V.

The BOE approved certified and classified personnel Monday night, including the appointment of Nutrition Coordinator Fran Stivender-Muhammad as Assistant Director of Nutrition and the appointment of Communications Coordinator Nell Boggs to Director of Communications. Both appointments are effective December 1.

A number of school bus drivers attended Monday night’s meeting to express concerns over what they felt was a lack of adequate compensation and appreciation by the school system.

One of the speakers, Donald Crenshaw Jr., came into the school board meeting carrying a double-sided Stop and Slow sign. He, and the other speakers, said they were proud to be working with both the director and assistant director of transportation, but wanted the BOC to be aware of what they consider to be inadequate compensation for the role they play of getting children to and from school safely.

“Bus drivers are not being appreciated or compensated,” said Crenshaw. “We are in a dire situation. I’d like to say things are getting better, but I’ve been watching our transportation and it is not getting better.”

Bus driver Sheila Hill said she came to the meeting in support of her co-workers. She said that the school system has lost over 30 bus drivers this year.

“When you’re compensated and appreciated, you want to stay with your job.” she said. “I’ve done this for 22 years and this is the worst that I’ve seen.”

Crenshaw said, “There is no incentive for people to come to work everyday.”

Douglas County School Superintendent Trent North told the bus drivers, “We really do appreciate what you do and compensation is part of that. We are committed for you to know we value what you do.”

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