And they are doing so as potential workers increasingly are staying on the sidelines because of fears of surging school COVID-19 infections. After spending most of last year learning remotely, Georgia students went back to class in full force earlier this month, only to have individual classes, whole grade levels and some schools shutdown and return to virtual instruction because of massive positive cases.
The Henry board agreed to also give existing bus drivers a $2 an hour pay increase as well as a bonus of up to $1,000. Drivers also will get $2 more an hour for field trips, immediate benefits for new drivers, paid training and work attire paid for by the district. Henry staff can also earn $250 if a driver they recommend is hired.
“I’m excited for what this is going to do for those wonderful employees,” board member Sophe Pope said.
The board amended its budget for fiscal 2022, increasing it by $2 million to $417.4 million. The district said the extra funds will come from federal COVID-19 relief dollars and state money for enrollment.
Henry Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis said the additional spending is part of measures the district is taking to keep apace of changes brought on by the pandemic. The school system also is asking parents to drive their children to school if possible and will accept morning drop offs as early as 7 a.m. at elementary schools, 7:30 a.m. at middle schools and 7:15 a.m. at high schools.
“We are doing absolutely everything in our power to keep schools open for young people,” Davis said. “The rapid increase of COVID-19 in our community cannot be ignored.”