New twist in County teacher bonuses

ROANOKE – There has been another twist in Roanoke County’s dispute over one-time bonuses for County teachers.

The bonuses were originally planned by the Roanoke County School Board to award every full time County school employee an extra $750, just in time for Christmas. Part-time school employees were to receive $500 in bonuses.

The County Board of Supervisors terminated the bonus checks, however, because of the economic climate. The money added up to $1.8 million, which Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Altizer said was more money than they could spare.

Many teachers and other school employees in the County were devastated that they had lost the potential bonuses.

On Tuesday, however, Altizer, as well as Mike Stovall, announced that the bonuses had been re-instated.

Altizer, Stovall, Windsor Hills Supervisor Joseph McNamara, and School Board Chairman Drew Barrineau met and came to a compromise on the bonuses.

At the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Altizer and Stovall announced the compromise. All County employees, full and part time, will be receiving $500 bonus checks.

“The compromise on the table was that they wanted all employees to be involved,” Stovall said.
McNamara explained that the money will come from a surplus in health care insurance reserves. The Supervisors debated whether that money belonged to the County employees, and eventually decided that it did.

While the bonus checks are not guaranteed as of yet, the Board of Supervisors hopes to be able to consent to the plan by December 18th.  If approved, the bonus checks will arrive in January. The compromise will end up costing the County approximately two million dollars, according to Stovall.

While Altizer hoped that everyone was satisfied with the outcome of the compromise, Hollins District Supervisor Richard Flora had some warnings for the County, especially the School Board.

“What happens in 18 months when the stimulus money dries up?” Flora asked. “I don’t want to give away something today that can save 100 jobs in the future.”

Flora commented that he hoped the School Board had taken into consideration the loss of revenue in the future, and will not have to make any layoffs because of the bonuses they give away now.

“With that said, I’m delighted that we have a compromise,” Flora said.