West Jeff school employees to receive extra $500

(Posted Feb. 9, 2021)

By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer

Jefferson Local Schools staff are getting a little extra in their March paychecks after school board members approved a $70,000 expenditure during their Feb. 8 meeting.

“Our board decided because our staff has been so outstanding working through this pandemic, they voted to give a $500 stipend to all of our employees,” said Superintendent William Mullett.

Mullett said funding for the stipend is possible, in part, due to the steadiness of health insurance costs over the year. That steadiness resulted in a health insurance premium holiday. The holiday forgave the district one month of insurance premiums, resulting in a $210,000 savings.

“The board decided to use a portion of that savings for the stipends,” Mullett said.

In other action, the board approved the hiring of a permanent substitute for a music teacher on maternity leave and another for a middle school intervention specialist. This brings the number of permanent substitutes working in Jefferson Local Schools to five.

Many districts across Ohio were forced at one time or another to move to all online learning due to inability to hire substitutes to cover classroom and transportation needs.

“We were a little proactive at the beginning of the year in hiring permanent substitutes,” Mullett reported. “We hired one permanent sub for each of our buildings. These people have no particular subject to cover, and it’s been helpful.”

Due to a shortage of substitute teachers, the state recently temporarily relaxed its requirements for substitute teachers and no longer requires a bachelor’s degree or certification. However, individuals interested in signing up to be placed on a sub list must still complete a series of online courses, complete a background check, and provide copies of their driver’s license and Homeland Security employment verification.

The temporary requirements are good through June 30, 2021.

According to Mullett, the Madison-Champaign Educational Service Center hired a couple of substitutes under the new guidelines. If Jefferson Local Schools wants to tap into the center’s resources, they must first adopt a resolution.

“We’ve been fortunate with not a lot of staff absences,” stated Mullett, who also reported that the district—in collaboration with the county health department—plans to offer the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations to all staff members on Feb. 24.

“Eighty-four percent of our staff, from bus drivers to administrators, signed up to get vaccinated,” he said.

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