Law changes pay periods, school calender
New state regulations will affect when Union County teachers get paid and what days can be used to make up missed classes. The Union County School Board tackled both of those subjects during its Tuesday, Dec. 6 meeting.
The School and Teacher Paperwork Reduction Act made changes to the pay schedule, requiring school districts to pay teachers on the last day of the month and only for time earned. To meet state requirements, the school board unanimously approved changing the employee pay-date of the 25th of each month to the last calendar day of the month.
Still unresolved by the state and leaving board members and teachers with many unanswered questions is conflicting language in the law that only allows for full month paychecks for 10-month employees. The law fails to address the issue of the partial work months of June and August where teachers only work for two weeks. The law states, “Payment for a full month when days employed are less than a full month is prohibited, as this constitutes prepayment.”
Also at issue is the length of time between paychecks, from teachers’ last paycheck issued in May to their first check of the new school year, on Aug. 31. New employees starting in August would have to wait 45 days for their first check.
“Rep. Tom Murray, the original bill author has produced a fix,” N.C. Rep. Craig Horn told Union County Weekly. “That eliminates the conflicting language of the original bill and provides flexibility to the school board to set the pay-date and to pay new teachers for the days employed. We hope to get this before the short session next year.”
Teachers can opt to use an allotment program the school district offers that divides their annual salary over 12 months rather than go two months with out a paycheck.
The other change enacted by the legislature during the last session was the addition of five more days to traditional school year. Concerns of the unfunded expense and the loss of teacher workdays has been the focus of much of the discussion in prior meetings. The Union County district got a waiver for the current school year.
“I am in favor an increase of any number of days [to the school year],” school board member Carolyn Lowder said, “as long as it is completely funded and supported.”
Board members approved six calendars for the school year beginning August 2012. Typically, there are four annual calendars planned and approved by the board. In addition to the traditional, Union County Early College, year-round Monroe Middle and year-round schools, the staff and calendar committee developed two contingency calendars for each of the four regular calendars.
Contingency Calendar 1 would be used if the school district is granted a three-day waiver based on the rollout of new programs. This calendar would reflect 182 school days and three more workdays.
Contingency Calendar 2 would be the traditional 180-day school year calendar allowing for the additional five workdays.
Dr. David Clark, Deputy Superintendent for Human Resources, presented the proposed calendars to the board. Clark highlighted the members of the calendar committee and the time involved to develop the array of calendars needed to satisfy every possibility.
“With the traditional calendar, we did a survey of the calendar committee members to get priorities from the feedback they received from their schools.” Clark said. “The number one priority they had was ‘don’t take away spring break’, second was they needed more breaks within the school year.”
“The third priority was to not impact the winter break,” Clark said. “If you look at the 185 day calendar, there is no way to achieve all of that, the way the state law is written now.”
Clark pointed out with the change, there were no more workdays to use as snow makeup days.
“There are no workdays to use as snow makeup days,” Clark said, “we’ve left that up to the discretion of superintendent. He can use Saturdays but would left that flexible for him to determine.”
The board unanimously approved the calendars and contingencies for next year.
In a town hall meeting held in Matthews Dec. 5, House Speaker Thom Tillis addressed the issue stating that the odds were very favorable to repeal the law. Rep. Craig Horn who attended the meeting said later that he has heard from many members who favor the additional days on the calendar.
“The legislature has increased the mandatory days to 185 without paying for them,” school board member David Scholl said. “Bus service alone costs (the district) $60,000 per day or $300,000 for the five extra days. The entire issue of the number of instructional days combined with the confines of the required start and end dates needs to be revisited,” Scholl said. “I would prefer that local school systems have more flexibility to determine for their students and community what works best.”
Marvin Ridge principal moves to new assignment
In a release issued Wednesday, Dec. 7, the school district announced that Bill Cook, principal at Marvin Ridge High School, is moving to Central Services as Director of Federal Programs beginning mid January. Mr. Cook is replacing Jane McNeely Sowell who retired.
Taking over at Marvin Ridge is Tim Conner the principal at Porter Ridge Middle School. Replacing Mr. Connor at Porter Ridge Middle School is Bashawn Harris, an assistant principal at Forest Hills High.
In other actions, the board approved Lisa Taylor as the permanent principal of Porter Ridge Elementary School; Ms. Taylor had served as interim.