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Brunswick County School System employees will receive something better than a turkey for Thanksgiving—the school board approved a $750 bonus at the Nov. 8 meeting.
The school system will cut a bonus check to each full-time employee Nov. 20 instead of with their next regular paycheck to have the money in hand for post-Thanksgiving Black Friday sales.
Board member Charles Miller recommended sending out the bonus before Thanksgiving.
“Why can’t we get it out in November? When is Black Friday? Is there any way possible to do it before then?” Miller asked.
“Do you go shopping on Black Friday?” he asked employees in the audience.
“Yes!” was the resounding response.
Brunswick County Schools employees are paid monthly, at the end of each month. Brunswick County Finance Director Ann Hardy told the board they would be able to provide a separate check to employees a week before the usual pay period.
The bonus wasn’t on the agenda for the board of education meeting, but was added at the top of the meeting by board member Bud Thorsen.
“We discussed (an employee bonus) at the board retreat. I want (us) to make a decision,” Thorsen said.
“Should we go with a bonus? I think we owe it to the staff to decide tonight.”
Superintendent Edward Pruden told the board the school system’s fund balance is at $4.9 million.
“The fund balance recommendation is to keep two months of operating expenses available, which is $4.9 million,” Pruden said.
Pruden said the initial proposed holiday bonus was $1,000 per employee, but staff learned they would need to replace four chillers—the cooling system for large air conditioning units—requiring the staff to set aside $800,000 for the purchase.
“The $1,000 bonus would put us $287,000 under the $4.9 million fund balance (after spending the $800,000),” Pruden said.
He added the staff calculated the cost of offering $750, $600 and $500 bonuses—but recommended $750.
School board chairman Shirley Babson asked the finance director if capital outlay costs were cutting into the fund balance, would the board need to increase it.
“We should be OK, but if we have too many chillers (to replace) we will have to get into it,” Hardy said.
This is the second year the school system offered a holiday bonus, but Pruden assured board members it was not their intention to set a precedent of annual bonuses.
“The employees understand this is not annual. They understand this was considered because there have been no raises in two years,” he said.
Thorsen said he was comfortable with $750 with the understanding the bonus will not recur year after year.
Board members unanimously approved the holiday bonus, 5-0.
Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.