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RSS approves ‘premium pay’ for frontline workers during COVID-19 outbreak

SALISBURY — All Rowan-Salisbury Schools employees directly involved with the district’s new meal distribution program will now receive “premium pay” and be compensated for a full five days of work despite only working the three. 

The district announced on April 3 it would cut back on the number of days it would deliver meals after spring break to reduce staff exposure to COVID-19. Monday was the first day of the new schedule, with three days instead of five.

The pay change affects “mandatory employees,” including those who work in school nutrition, transportation, staff who are sanitizing the buses and kitchen as well as those who repair and maintain kitchen equipment.

Some of those employees have opted to stay home and, instead, complete professional development. As school closures and the pandemic have continued more of those employees have opted to take leave. School officials say they hope the changes will keep more mandatory employees working and make the meal deliveries happen by incentivizing them with a reduced schedule and decreasing their risk of contracting COVID-19.

“We felt like this would be the best overall, based on what they would appreciate, and we could completely support it with the budget,” Superintendent Lynn Moody said.

At the same Monday meeting of the Rowan County school board, members revisited and approved a draft budget message. Carol Herndon, chief financial officer for the district, added draft budget materials to what will be submitted to the county board of commissioners on the recommendation of the system’s Attorney Ken Soo.

That includes $1.6 million in new funding for the local share of state salaries and benefits increases, increasing classified employee salaries in accordance with a 2017 salary study, professional developments and enhancements for student services, including nurses, alternative education, psychologists and behavior specialists.

The message also included a request for $2.5 million in in capital funding. A paragraph was added to the top of the message noting the requests were created before Gov. Roy Cooper extended school closures until May 15 and issued a new executive order mandating everyone in the state to stay at home.

At the previous meeting, Member Josh Wagner requested a detailed list of how a previous capital funding has been allocated, which Herndon included as well.

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