ECS employees to get $1,000 bonus

By Thomas Wilson

   Teachers and staff of Elizabethton City Schools will receive a one-time $1,000 salary bonus created from the school system's savings incurred through lower than expected insurance costs generated during the 2004 budget year.
   ECS Superintendent Dr. David Roper announced the bonuses at Thursday night's Elizabethton Board of Education meeting. The system's total payout will be approximately $300,000 based on the 300 full-time workers employed with ECS. He said part-time employees would receive a pro-rated share of the $1,000 bonus.
   "We wanted to be able to put toward the employees," said Roper of the insurance savings. He added the checks would be mailed to employees early next week.
   The bonus will be reflected in the system's 2004 fiscal year budget. Employee salaries comprise 62 percent - roughly $8.5 million - of the system's 2005 fiscal year budget.
   ECS Director of Finance, Cynthia Roberts said the increase for insurance costs to cover system employees had been forecast at 15 percent for the 2004 fiscal year. The actual costs only rose between 4 and 7 percent she said.
   The system budgeted a 2 percent cost-of-living and step pay raise plus a 1 percent salary bonus for ECS faculty and staff for the 2005 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The Tennessee General Assembly approved a one-time 2 percent bonus for the Tennessee teachers in the state budget passed last month.
   In other business, the board voted 3-0 approving a contract with the Carter County School System and Mountain States Health Alliance to fund the position of two health care career counselors. The contract designates one counselor for Happy Valley High School and the second to serve the city and school systems. Board members Dr. Jonathan Bremer and Bob Berry were absent from the meeting.
   The meeting's consent agenda passed by the board included a resolution of support for the National Guard and Reserve.