New Hanover Schools hourly employees won’t get paid for five days

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Bus drivers are a vital part of the public school system and those who work in New Hanover County recently found out they would not be paid for the last week of school.

After Hurricane Florence, the school system paid employees for 17 days missed.

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In November, the school board voted to recover five of those days at the end of the year, meaning employees had been overpaid.

Hourly employees will not be paid for those days unless they use leave time to receive pay while still working those days.

Lavonda Williams has been driving a bus for 24 years and been with the county for eight.



“It’s just a hardship on a lot of the single parents at this time that counts on that last paycheck to get them through summer months,” Williams said.

Williams says she wasn’t told until April 25 that she wouldn’t be paid for the make-up days.

“Some people say they’re not even coming the last week of school,” Williams said. “But everybody wants to be there with their children the last week of school, no one wants to stay out. You want to come, but you think about, ‘Well I’m here, I’m not getting paid for it.'”

She says she was told that missing those days would cause her pay to be docked next year.

She also says buses and bus routes are based on attendance, meaning missing those days could mean the difference between having a bus with air conditioning and potentially losing her kids.

“Last year, I had a very good bus, but I was out because my mother passed away,” Williams said. “So therefore I went from slot six to slot 32.”

Bus drivers have been given the option to use leave time to receive pay for those days, but they will still have to work.

Williams says many drivers don’t have that leave time left this late in the year.

Here is the summary from New Hanover County Schools Representatives:

“Following the immediate days after Hurricane Florence, one of the district’s primary goals was to support our employees by ensuring that they were paid for the days that they had missed. The majority of our schools were closed for 17 days. Given the number of student days missed, NHCS Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley recommended to the Board of Education to recover five of the days, which included adding four days to the end of the school year. The calendar change was approved during the November Board meeting.

The make-up days and payroll changes were communicated to all principals, directors and payroll operators in November upon the Board’s approval. The information stated that hourly employees would need to make-up the days missed in September, for which they had already been compensated. Unfortunately, the information about the approved make-up days was not communicated to NHCS bus drivers in a timely manner.

Last week, Dr. Markey also approved an additional leave option for Hourly staff allowing them to apply available leave time towards the missed days, thereby giving them the option to receive additional pay for the make-up days in June.”

Before the school board meeting began Tuesday, WWAY asked Superintendent Tim Markley if he could explain how this fell through the cracks. He refused.

Here is the summary from Dr. Markley, Ms. Small and the Transportation Department WWAY received via e-mail:

“Following the immediate days after Hurricane Florence, one of the district’s primary goals was to support our employees by ensuring that they were paid for the days that they had missed. The majority of our schools were closed for 17 days. Given the number of student days missed, NHCS Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley recommended to the Board of Education to recover five of the days, which included adding four days to the end of the school year. The calendar change was approved during the November Board meeting.

The make-up days and payroll changes were communicated to all principals, directors and payroll operators in November upon the Board’s approval. The information stated that hourly employees would need to make-up the days missed in September, for which they had already been compensated. Unfortunately, the information about the approved make-up days was not communicated to NHCS bus drivers in a timely manner.

Last week, Dr. Markey also approved an additional leave option for Hourly staff allowing them to apply available leave time towards the missed days, thereby giving them the option to receive additional pay for the make-up days in June.”