Randolph County Board of Education approves pay increase for School Nutrition Department staff

ASHEBORO — The Randolph County Board of Education met June 29, when it approved pay increases for school nutrition department staff to fill vacancies and retain staff.

“The school nutrition department is proposing an increase of 6.2-9.4% for all school-based School Nutrition classified employees, including school nutrition assistants, school nutrition assistant managers, and school nutrition managers,” said executive director of operations Dale Brinkley. “In addition, the school nutrition department is proposing a 5% increase for all school nutrition central services support staff. This increase will help prevent the compression in the salary schedule once the $15 minimum or 2.5% increase is passed in the 2022-23 budget.”

The total annual cost of this increase will be $340,000, including matching FICA and retirement, with the cost being funded solely by the School Nutrition Budget. It will become effective on August 1, 2022, according to Brinkley.

Randolph County Schools has 32 openings for School Nutrition positions and according to director of school nutrition Kelly Green. That number is significantly up from March 2020, when there were just nine openings.

“The new pay adjustment will allow the School Nutrition Department to better retain current employees, recruit for current vacant positions, and remain competitive with surrounding school systems,” Brinkley said.

The board then approved the submission to the State Board, the Randolph County AIG Plan for 2022-25. A new plan has to be submitted every three years to the state, and this was the year for the new plan.

“Our plan is a comprehensive plan that involves stakeholders from across the district, parents, and AIG teachers,” said assistant superintendent Cathy Waddell. “They came together to talk about what needed to be in the plan, and the focal points of the plan are as follows: We have a criteria by which we identify students that are AIG, we provide services, practices, and strategies for the students that are identified, we try to provide a rigorous and relevant curriculum for AIG students, we recruit and retain highly qualified professionals to teach AIG students, we continuously engage stakeholders in the planning and implementation processes and then we monitor what we do.”

The board of education also had the option to approve the contribution of funds to the North Carolina School Boards Action Center, which is a separate part of the North Carolina School Board Association that focuses on advocacy and lobbying to support local school boards.

“It’s basically another avenue for lobbying,” said superintendent Stephen Gainey. “They try to help school boards with local bills and different bills they work with. I think we get a lot of good services from the school boards association. It’s the same rate. We were a member of the action center group last year, and it’s the same rate as last year, $5,000.”

However, the board declined to contribute to the North Carolina Schools Boards Action Center for the 2022-23 year. The board cited prior issues and lack of advocacy dating back to the masking debates in schools as the primary factor for refusal to contribute this year.

“If you look at the benefits, it hasn’t changed for several years,” said board member Todd Cutler. “It’s the same things. The people down at the North Carolina School Board Association, they’re great. They’re a good group of people, but we also found out that when we needed help dealing with the masks and stuff, they weren’t there. They were not there. They didn’t want to touch that at all.”

The Randolph County Board of Education will next meet July 18.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal