General Assembly - long session
The General Assembly, State House of Representatives, and Senate is back in a long session where they generally discuss the budget. Dr. Ellis expects the discussion about the budget to be smooth this school year. They expect to do the Medicaid expansion. There is some hope that the discussion will be good for state employees. The biggest argument will be school calendars. Dr. Ellis will not present a calendar plan knowing it is illegal. We are aware a 2-week break before exams is not preferable, but it is legal. It is anticipated that the calendar law will change, or they will legislate consequences for those who do not follow the law.
Dr. Ellis believes there is hope for state employees with the state budget. We saw the largest increase in the budget since 2006 last year. The money and surplus are there. We will continue to communicate with senators and our representatives. They continue to cut taxes, which does help individuals, but hurts the ability to give substantial raises to state employees. We are managing our budget, but we need more. These will be talking points as we move forward.
Will there be any bonuses this school year?
The $1,500 retention bonus will be paid to employees in May. This will be the last retention bonus from the ESSR funds.
If a custodian or cafeteria worker must substitute on a bus route, do they receive pay or compensation time?
Substitute bus drivers receive compensation time for filling in on a bus route. The finance system differentiates between substitute and full-time employees. Bus driver classes are consistently happening. We are working on getting the newly hired employees licensed to drive a bus. We have gone above and beyond to ensure our kids can get to school and get home, which is appreciated. Dr. Ellis stated it's still a headache when some people are called and expected to fill in for a route. It's particularly a problem at the high school level. If a full-time employee takes a sick day and has a bus route after school, that bus route will need a substitute driver who gets compensation time. We can’t double pay the person who takes leave and the sub driver. There are not enough funds to do that.