Lenoir City Board of Education discussed Thursday granting all license and non-certified employees a one-time bonus.

Jeanne Barker, Lenoir City director of schools, said the Tennessee General Assembly provided funding for a one-time bonus for teachers to recognize the effort required during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have already approved a 2% pay increase across the entire year for our teachers,” Barker said. “This will be in addition to that. This would be a bonus that would be based on the teacher salaries from Jan. 1 to the end of first semester. We believe that not only our teachers deserve this recognition, but we also believe that the non-certified staff deserve recognition for the work and hours that they put in as well.”

The state’s allocation is $107,000. Barker recommended the board take $35,884.76 from the reserve fund as a one-time expenditure to ensure all staff receive a bonus. Dividing $142,884.76 by the number of positions equates a 1.77% bonus for all.

“That would cover all of our employees to recognize our cafeteria workers, our bus drivers, our office staff,” Barker said. “All secretaries have worked so diligently to get substitutes in place. Our business offices have worked hard to keep up with COVID-related leaves. Our principals have worked tirelessly in making sure students have instruction every day and so have our maintenance crews and construction keeping the buildings clean and safe. I just believe we need to include everyone in on this.”

Barker suggested the bonus be paid at the end of the semester.

The board will vote March 25 after canceling the March 11 meeting.

Alternate schedule to stay

Upon starting the new semester, Lenoir City Schools announced sixth- through 12th-graders would attend school on an alternating day schedule with days labeled orange and black.

The schedule could now extend through April 30. Board members will vote at the March 25 meeting.

Barker said when the schedule was initially approved she thought teachers would be vaccinated the following week. That didn’t happen due to national shortages. Teachers in the district were vaccinated Saturday and now have to wait a month before receiving the second round of shots.

Barker expressed gratitude to the Loudon County Health Department for getting the vaccinations administered.

She suggested returning to a full schedule after April so teachers can have “defense” against COVID-19.

“Then we all come back together the month of May, so we can finish the school year with an understanding, a complete plan for how to go forward,” Barker said. “I know our schools have a lot of wrapping up kinds of things that they need to do, and then we’re also busily planning for summer opportunities for students, so we can clearly communicate all of that to them at the end of the year.”

Barker said she’s spoken to teachers, parents and students and believes this is the right step.

Board member Matthew Coleman asked Lenoir City High School principal Chip Orr how many students are still on the white schedule, which means they attend five days a week.

Orr said there are more than 300 on the white schedule, and the number changes daily.

“Grades have improved,” Orr said. “We’ve got quite a few kids who come in five days a week for various reasons. Mostly because of grade issues. But we’ve had to contact trace — it’s been a minimal number of kids.”