Henry County Schools held a special called meeting on Monday, August 23. During their meeting, they approved a budget amendment to raise school bus driver pay. The budget amendment also boosts recruitment and retention incentives.
The $2 million dollar budget amendment increases the general fund budget from $415.4 million to $417.4 million. The school district adopted its FY 2022 budget earlier in the year.
School Bus Driver Pay
The budget amendment increases school bus driver pay by $2 an hour for all drivers. This pay increase is retroactive to the first day of school. At this time, the starting pay for a new bus driver will be $17.61 / hour.
In addition, bus monitors will receive the $2 hourly pay increase. The starting pay will now be $14.40 / hour. Their increase is also retroactive to the start of school. Finally, bus monitors will now receive five earned sick leave days per year.
The $2 / hour increase will apply to field trip drivers. This increases the field trip rate to $15 per hour.
The amendment also includes recruitment and retention efforts. They include the following:
- $1,000 signing incentive for new hires and up to $1,000 retention incentive for current drivers.
- Remove an existing 30-day waiting period to receive benefits; drivers will now see immediate access.
- Paid training days (previously unpaid days)
- Waiver of $45 fingerprint fee (previously required payment)
- New provided work attire (three shirts and a HCS transportation department jacket)
- Referral bonus of $250
The budget amendment also benefits other positions under critical support services. In addition to transportation, the board approved the following changes:
- Increase Clinic Aide pay rate by $2 / hour. Starting hourly rate will be $11.65. Addition of five earned sick leave days/year.
- Increase School Nutrition Assistant and Managers pay rate by $1 / hour. Starting hourly pay for Assistants will be $10.42, and for Managers will be $14.26 (ES) and $14.67 (MS and HS).
- Increase Substitute Teacher daily pay range to $110 / day — $145 / day. This includes daily and permanent substitute teachers.
- Increase Substitute School Nutrition Assistants by $1 / hour to $9 / hour.
To help mitigate the ongoing COVID-19 impacts on staff and personnel, such as sickness and quarantine, the school district is implementing emergency action plan measures. The measures are intended to assist with staffing needs in support services departments.
The school district is encouraging those who can to drive their child to school. To help facilitate the influx of car riders, the district will be providing early morning supervision. The earlier hours for school drop-off start at the following times:
- 7:00 am for elementary schools
- 7:30 am for middle schools
- 7:15 am for high schools
The earlier hours begin on Wednesday, August 25. If necessary, then the school system will consider other steps. The steps may include, but are not limited to, zone bus stops and clustered bus stops.
Finally, the district will be reducing the number of curbside meal pickup locations from ten to four schools. Beginning the week of Monday, August 30, the following schools will offer curbside meals:
- Stockbridge Middle School
- Woodland High School
- McDonough Middle School
- Luella High School
Lastly, the school district announced an off day for all teachers and students. Henry County Schools will close on Friday, September 3, 2021. This is the Friday before Labor Day. The additional holiday follows Governor Kemp’s announcement to make the day a state holiday.