RSS will create plan to pay teachers for temporarily covering classes

Published 6:37 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2022

SALISBURY — Local teachers may soon receive compensation when they have to cover a class because of an absence.

During Monday’s meeting of the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education, Chief Human Resources Officer Jill Hall Freeman spoke about expanding on special pandemic compensation the district already has for teachers.

Currently, teachers can sign a contract with the district to take on extra duties — either teaching double classes or giving up their planning period to take on an additional class on a long-term basis due to school vacancies.

To this point, the district has not compensated teachers for covering a single class during their planning period when another teacher is absent. Freeman said the district is now setting up a system to pay teachers their hourly rate for that extra work as well.

“There are just a couple of tweaks we have to verify,” Freeman said.

Freeman emphasized to the board the measures are pandemic-related and the result of special flexibility from the state because of the widespread teacher shortage — not something the district would be able to do in normal circumstances.

Board member Brian Hightower said he wants to see the extra pay implemented as soon as possible.

The district began paying teachers for covering vacancies to cover classes amid shortages related to the pandemic. Day-to-day absences have also been elevated due to COVID-19.

Last week, the Post published a story discussing the compensation of teachers for covering long-term vacancies and double classes (“RSS talks teacher compensation, workforce issues”). An RSS teacher submitted a letter to the Post noting teachers are not compensated for covering absences and Freeman mentioned the story during her presentation.

In other business from Monday night’s meeting:

• The board will vote on the calendar for the upcoming school year during its next meeting. It reviewed calendar options on Monday and opted to put the issue on its Feb. 28 meeting for further discussion. The district plans to poll families about their preference of graduation date between a Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

• The board received information about beginning to update policies on aggressive behavior and vaping. The concerns were brought to the board by Chief Student Services Officer April Kuhn.

Kuhn told the board aggressive behavior is defined too broadly and carries disciplinary action ranging anywhere from brief in-school suspension to lengthy suspension out of school. She also noted it is a small minority of students who have behavioral issues.

She said the district does not have a consistent policy on discipline for vaping.

• The board updated some of its policies on holding remote meetings to comply with new state law. The changes were minor and clarified policy for holding and participating in remote meetings.

• The board will bring back an agreement for an easement with Duke Energy during its Feb. 28 meeting. The utility is upgrading power lines in the Mt. Ulla area and intends to perform some work on a corner of the Mt. Ulla Elementary property.

The board plans to approve the easement after some updates to the contract by its attorney.

• The board received an update on a cyber attack on its systems that occurred on Dec. 29. Career and technical education computers have been cleaned and are expected to be sent out next week.

Senior Information Officer David Blattner said some internal programs have been restored. About 25% of them are being worked on at the moment while 45% of programs are waiting to be addressed.

Creation of new accounts and the ability to issue devices to students are expected to be returned to normal next week.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

email author More by Carl