LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Public Schools Board of Education approved staff funding for the 2022-23 school year.
This is the third set of payments that will be available to employees using the Emergency III Elementary and Secondary Education Fund Program.
Bonuses are given to permanent and full-time employees who work four or more hours per day. The grants will be divided into two $500 payments spread out in December and June, equivalent to $1,000 per eligible employee.
“The first payment will be made on December 15,” said Erica Setzer, PSRC’s Chief Financial Officer.
Bus drivers with regular routes who work less than four hours a day are the exception, Setzer said. Those employees will be eligible for $200 in December and $200 in June.
PSRC Board of Education Chairman John Simmons said it was a gesture of appreciation to educators.
Simmons says she knows teachers want more support and has been involved in discussions to push for more support.
“This is a great gift that we give to our teachers and we thank God for that,” he said. “To our teachers, this is just a small token of what we can give you but we thank you even more.”
The total cost of the payments is $3.8 million. When this cost is distributed, the total cost provided by the program will exceed $13.6 million.
In other matters, the school board without comment approved a two-year contract with the Schwartz Law Firm to provide information to the school board and cabinet.
At the school board’s October meeting, Superintendent Freddie Williamson selected Schwartz to represent the three who went before the board in September. Others include Vogel Law Firm and Poyner Spruill.
Williamson said the law firm was headed by attorney Richard Shwartz.
“He’s a strong researcher, and most government officials have worked with him,” Williamson said.
After the recommendation, some board members said that no information or discussion was provided to make a decision, and ultimately voted to give Williamson the green light to gather additional information about the costs and services with Shwartz Law Firm and Poyner Spruill and consider whether or not to enter into a contract at the next school board meeting.
According to the contract, the school board is paid $3,000 per month which covers the availability of faculty members for telephone and office communication with the Board, the principal, and administrative staff of the main office. and attend 12 board meetings per financial year.
Other legal services and litigation are billed in a quarter hourly fee of $195 for attorneys and $95 for executors and law clerks.
Out-of-pocket expenses, including travel, copays, court fees and other expenses are paid at the actual cost.
The contract period is from November 1, 2022 to June 30, 2024.
The need for a new representative is due to the departure of Attorney Grady Hunt, who has served for nearly 30 years.
The Robesonian heard Hunt tendered his resignation in May. He served his last day on June 30 but is still working to get an attorney retained by the board.
On safety issues, the school board learned that Robeson County has received $1,048,000 to improve safety in public schools.
“We wrote this budget to provide bus radios for all our buses. In addition, we started to take care of the main entrance in all our schools so we will spend this money to provide those two products before June 30,” said Bobby Locklear, Assistant Chief of Support Services.
Board member Terry Locklear asked if the school system would discuss acquiring technology that would allow parents to track students on their buses.
“We now have GPS on all county vehicles including our buses…” Locklear said.
He said the school district plans to adopt some form of child-friendly technology that will be available to parents or guardians.
During the briefing, board members learned that data consolidation is showing student growth in grades k-2.
“The data shows that our k-2 students in Robeson County Public Schools have exceeded expectations,” said Thomas Jones, PSRC’s K-5 Superintendent.
Board members also received an update and took part in a lengthy discussion about the Rei Leverage Leadership program, a nationwide model that PSRC is working on as a pilot model. The project is a mentoring model to train principals to better support teachers.
In other news, the school board recognized East Robeson Elementary as a National Blue Ribbon School. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program “recognizes elementary, middle, and high schools based on their academic excellence and achievement. to close achievement gaps between student groups.”
“I’m the principal, I think you can say what this school is like but at the end of the day, it’s the teachers, the students and the community that put me in this position and I’m grateful to all of you, ” Principal Lewis Cox. “It’s going really well.”
It was also recognized that the Lumberton High School Chapter of the FFA placed first in the 2022 National FFA Hall of States and Building Communities Division. The Hall of States is “a collection of booths operated by FFA members to showcase the diversity of agriculture in their states,” according to the National FFA.
“I want to thank our administrators at Lumberton High School, thank you to the CTE director, thank you to our superintendent, and most importantly thank you to the school board for allowing us to have this opportunity,” said Kamryn McInnis, president of the chapter.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at: [email protected] or 910-416-5865.