Bladen County Schools to forgive missed Florence days, pay workers

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — Students attending public school in the Mother County will not have to make up days missed following Hurricane Florence, but educators will still get paid. The decision was approved unanimously Monday night by the Bladen County Board of Education.

“A special session bill passed last week provided relief to counties declared a natural disaster,” Superintendent Robert Taylor remarked.

The statute gave school districts three options: make up the days, deem as completed up to 20 days, or some combination of the first two options.

“We are going to choose option two,” Taylor stated. “We missed 13 school days for students.”

One change following Florence was what would happen with educator compensation. Following Hurricane Matthew, school employee pay was not addressed by the legislature, but employees who worked in shelters were eligible for pay through FEMA. This time around, the N.C. legislature specifically stated employees would receive pay even for days missed.

Still, the district was faced with a dilemma. With all employees getting paid for time they didn’t technically work, many district staff members actually worked, some 80 or 90 hours a week.

“It’s like you’re doing double,” Taylor said. “We will submit a claim and hope to be reimbursed for that from FEMA.”

The board approved counting the 13 days as completed and paying district employees for the time.

In other business, the board:

— Heard a hurricane update from Taylor and learned though no schools sustained major damage, the two high schools did experience damage to the roofs. Taylor said both will require replacing in the near future. Taylor, along with board member Alan West, commended the county on its coordination before, during and after the hurricane.

— Approved declaring the Extended Hope building as surplus, meaning it will be transferred to the county commissioners. The Bladen County Youth Focus desires to obtain the building for use by Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy.

Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.