Hoke school board considers salaries, bonuses

RAEFORD – The Hoke County Schools Board of Education met Tuesday, Jan. 16, beginning with a discussion about salaries increases for school staff.

“This upcoming year, all salaries have to be redone,” said Interim Finance Officer Willena Richardson, beginning with non-certified staff as they are getting the smallest raises.

“We did bookkeepers first because they were basically making the same as receptionists but they do much more than a receptionist,” Richardson explained. “The next group we want to look at are custodians because a custodian who just started shouldn’t be making the same as someone who’s been here 20 years.”

According to Richardson, the proposed salary changes will cost Hoke County Schools $26,298.11 per year including benefits.

A $427,426.52 contract for the installation of cameras at Hoke County High School was approved.

“We received two bids, one from In-Telecom and one from Encore,” said Assistant Superintendent Dawn Ramseur. “Encore was the lowest bid by over $70,000. Encore was not only the lowest bid, but they were able to provide a mostly turnkey project installation for us, more than what would have been included for In-Telecom as that bid did not include cabling.

“We solicited feedback from other districts that have used Encore and they all had favorable comments with regard to Encore and their dealings with that.”

The board also approved the distribution of $25 gift cards that were leftover after distribution to teachers and staff from the holidays, to substitute teachers and tutors as well.

“At Christmas, in lieu of turkeys and hams, we purchased 1,300 gift cards for our staff,” Richardson said. “That’s the amount that we normally buy, but we have gift cards remaining that I cannot send back. We would like to give them to substitutes and tutors.”

According to Richardson, recipients must have worked more than 15 days in the first semester and will have to come to the central office to sign off for them.

Finally, the board approved a request to the Hoke County Board of Commissioners for both reimbursement and approval of various capital expenditures.

Back in October, the board was presented with information related to the capital projects expenditures, however various projects arose which HCS staff identified as having a greater need for funding

Those included West Hoke Middle School locker room improvements including repairs and replacements both to the floor as well as the lockers, repairs to the chimney at Hawk Eye Elementary School which poses a safety concern due to a hairline fracture and the replacement of the canopy at the entrance of the district’s maintenance building, which is also a safety concern.

“There was a lot of money at the beginning of the year that was allocated towards projects at Turlington and since the summer, we sort of put a hold on several of those projects,” said Assistant Superintendent Chad Hunt. “The only one we did there was a canopy replacement as well as the parking lot resurfacing. We did have some projects that would have been for beautification on the front. So we figured we could take some of that money and reallocate it for safety projects, but then we’d still have some money left over to address the needs at the entrance of the school.

Board member Angela Southerland was the lone dissent on the item.

Near the end of the meeting, the board also reported that they had reached a settlement with an anonymous student for the second straight month.

“On November 16, 2023, a petition for a contested case hearing was filed in the Office of Administrative Hearing on behalf of Hoke County Schools student S.T.,” said Vice Chair Rosa McAllister-McRae. “On Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, the Hoke County Board of Education approved a settlement agreement in this matter. The cost of this settlement is $28,500 to be used towards the student’s educational service and attorney fees.

The Hoke County Schools Board of Education will next meet Feb. 13.