SOUTHERN INDIANA — Local school boards are taking action to support school employees during the districts’ coronavirus-related closures.
On Monday, the school boards of both Greater Clark County Schools and West Clark Community Schools unanimously passed resolutions allowing classified hourly employees to be paid during the school closures. The Clarksville Community Schools board intends to vote on a similar resolution later this week, and the New Albany- Floyd County school board has not yet announced its plans regarding staff pay if the district extends its school closures.
Greater Clark County Schools and Clarksville Community Schools have already switched to eLearning this week prior to their spring breaks — Greater Clark will have a week of no classes from March 30 to April 3 following its scheduled spring break, and Clarksville Community Schools’ spring break is scheduled to start next week. West Clark and the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. started their two-week spring breaks this week, and West Clark announced Tuesday that it will switch to eLearning from March 30 to April 3 following its spring break.
Katie Hutchinson, vice-president of the Greater Clark school board, said the resolution will help classified employees such as cafeteria workers, bus drivers and para-educators maintain an income even if they lose work due to the closures, and it will allow them to be paid as much as they were prior to the hiatus.
“We’re a family, and we care about all of our employees that make our school district possible and make it amazing,” Hutchinson said. “We’re going to do everything we can, especially in a time of crisis, to maintain as much normalcy and security as we can.”
Janelle Fitzpatrick, president of the Greater Clark board, said the resolution passed unanimously, and she viewed the action as a “no-brainer.”
“We value our employees, and we want people to be able to make it through the situation and not create more worry,” she said. “We don’t want them to worry about not having a job or a paycheck.”
The West Clark resolution provides the district with some flexibility in paying classified employees during pandemic-related closures, and a classified employee who cannot perform their regular duties would have the opportunity to perform some type of work during this time to receive their paycheck. The resolution also states that an employee not assigned to another duty can use personal time off and/or vacation days to make up for lost wages.
Myra Powell, West Clark board president, said the board wants to take care of the school districts’ staff during a tough time.
“It’s not anyone’s fault that we’re in the situation we’re in, and certainly not theirs, so we want take care of valuable staff members as much as possible,” she said.
Tina Bennett, superintendent of Clarksville Community Schools, said the district wants to ensure the school districts’ employees are not negatively affected by the coronavirus closures, and the board will present an emergency meeting either Thursday or Friday to vote on a resolution regarding staff pay. The resolution will also address employee pay for those who continue working during the closures in areas such as food pickup/delivery services and facility cleaning.
“We’re all in this together, and we will work together to take care of each other during difficult times,” she said.