Wake County school board approves bonuses for all employees, amid dispute with bus drivers

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Wake County School Board on Tuesday approved a motion for a $1,250 one-time bonus for all permanent employees. It was one of three potential changes up for discussion at its meeting.

The board also approved a 1% increase in pay for permanent staffers.

Earlier, the North Carolina Association of Educators held a rally outside the school board meeting on Tuesday, demanding better pay and working conditions for school staff.

It comes as some bus drivers have spent the last two school days calling out sick for work to protest their compensation.
Educators were standing in solidarity with the drivers. The board said this is just the start but the NCAE said it has heard that before and "it's hard to say if it's a win when we don't know what it looks like."

The drivers say they've been forced to take on extra bus routes every day without getting paid any more money.

Paula Wright is an instructional assistant in special education at Heritage Middle School. She said she came to speak at the school board meeting to talk about pay

"Compensation is the most important way to reward employees for the work they do," Wright said. "Your proposed hourly rate for non-certified staff, it's unacceptable. We have worked tirelessly for years some of us, we have worked through COVID."

Wright has been with the district for eight years and still makes less than $14 per hour.

"Where do I go from here? Do I finally go work at Wal Mart and get 16 to 17 dollars an hour?" she said.

She said she feels that the bonuses and minimum wage raise still aren't enough.

"I don't want to leave the school system, I've invested time, I love the students I work with but enough is enough," Wright added.

Stacy Eleczko of Garner Magnet Middle School said she has been an educator for 20 years. She's also a parent

"I'm here because there's never been a more dire time to take action for public education," Eleczko said. "Every day, I and my colleagues walk into the building exhausted and often feeling defeated before I get onto campus. Daily I am stretched thinner than the day before and barely have time to do my job between covering the front desk."

Around 33 percent of Wake County bus drivers did not show up for work Friday and 25 percent did not show up for work Monday.
That meant hundreds of bus routes did not run, leaving students stranded at bus stops and forcing parents to figure out a different way to get their children to school.

School leaders said they expect Monday was the last day of the sick-out demonstration. Bus drivers said they're looking to see what decision the school board makes Tuesday.

However, the district said parents should check the district's bus updates website for Tuesday..

The board also voted on face coverings. It voted to continue masking except outdoors for those doing band and other athletics.

Athletes who play indoor sports will still need to wear masks.
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