Barrow County School System teachers and employees will be receiving a one-time $1,500 retention supplement in January with the help of federal funding.

During its monthly voting session Tuesday, Nov. 9, the county board of education approved paying the supplement to all active teachers, employees and contract custodians who will have compiled at least 90 calendar days of employment and service with the school district as of Jan. 3. Employees who have not worked with the district for 90 days will receive the supplement once they’ve hit that mark, and part-time employees will receive a percentage of the supplement, district officials said.

The $1,500 supplement is expected to cost around $3.4 million to implement, but Jennifer Houston, the district’s assistant superintendent for business services, told the board she expects the cost will be covered entirely with CARES Act and American Rescue Plan funds.

The board was presented with three options for supplement levels — $500, $1,000 or $1,500 — but was unanimous in its decision to go with the highest amount. Board members and superintendent Chris McMichael said the retention supplement was the district’s way of thanking its teachers and employees for navigating the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think all of our people have been working in the equivalent of a war zone for two (school) years,” board member Lynn Stevens said. “I think we’re all battle-weary, and I’m so delighted we can actually have the funds to do this to show our appreciation for everyone who works in the school system.”

“Our folks have done an amazing job under some of the worst circumstances I think educators have ever had to deal with,” McMichael added. “I’m thrilled, too, that we were able to do this.”

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business Tuesday, the board:

•approved an agreement with Modular Solutions of Cumming to install a mobile pod unit at the district’s innovation campus to accommodate growth while phase II of Barrow Arts and Sciences Academy is constructed. The cost limitation for the project is $1.5 million, and the project will be paid for through a combination of CARES Act and SPLOST funds. The mobile pod unit is expected to be ready for next school year, according to Joe Perno, assistant superintendent for operations.

•approved an agreement with Charles Black Construction to serve as construction manager at-risk for planned renovations and modifications at Bramlett, Kennedy and Yargo elementary schools. The firm will join the project architect (approved by the board in April) for the design phase through the completion of construction. The work, which is part of the district’s local facilities funding application to the state for FY23, has a cost limitation of $3.5 million.

•approved an agreement with Charles Black Construction to serve as construction manager at-risk for planned renovations, modifications and maintenance work at various athletic and agricultural facilities, maintenance department property, pod/mobile units, the district’s professional development center, the old Bethlehem Elementary building, the old County Line Elementary building, Sims Academy and the Center for Innovative Teaching — all of which are not eligible for the state funding. The cost limitation has been set at $3.5 million.

•approved the acceptance of a $293,523 21st Century Community Learning Centers sub-grant for Fiscal Year 2022. The grant supports the local Boys and Girls Club after-school program located at the Boys and Girls Club of Winder. A total of 101 students from County Line, Holsenbeck, Kennedy, Statham and Winder elementary schools will be able to participate.

•approved the purchase of Video Insight security camera system licenses from low-bid respondent TechOptics for $48,684.

•approved an agreement with Aligned Cleaning Solutions to provide custodial workers for cleaning services, supplementing the services the district already has in place. Perno said hiring and retaining custodial workers has been “more challenging than usual” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

•heard from Houston that the district collected $1.46 million in ELOST receipts for October.

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