‘For many folks, they’re going to double their hourly rate to work this summer’: Tri-Cities school systems paying teachers, staff higher wages to work summer programs

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TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL)- Schools across the region are preparing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for summer learning programs through state and federal funds.

“All of our certified staff are paid $45 an hour to work this program. Our classified staff, kind of our support staff and those other folks like our school nutrition workers and our bus drivers and those types folks, they are being paid at a rate of $25 an hour,” said Andy True, assistant superintendent for Kingsport City Schools. “For many folks, they’re going to double their hourly rate to work this summer.”

KCS is planning to spend about $850,000 on summer learning programs and “bridge camps.”

“Those additional roles for staff in the summer, those are typically paid at a rate of about $25 an hour. So, to pay a $45 an hour rate to our teaching, our certified staff is significantly more than we would have traditionally paid for summer work,” True said.

So far, 1,100 elementary school and 130 middle school students are signed up. The number of high school students enrolled was not readily available.

“This is significantly larger than we had from the summer learning experience in the past,” True said. “Obviously, as we’re rolling out of a Covid year we want to be able to provide the levels of support for students that they need in order to be best prepared moving forward academically. What we really want to do is to launch this year in a way that provides those engaging experiences for students and also prepares us to next summer and the summer beyond that as well, have a model for how this can be done successfully.”

Washington County Schools will spend $922,000 for elementary and middle school programs and about $150,000 for high school to serve about 1,000 students.

“The past practice has been $33 an hour for summer programming. if the teacher was involved in the summer program this year, the rate’s working out to be $45 an hour,” said Superintendent Jerry Boyd. “If they’re working in some supervising program and the target rate was $50 an hour.”

Both Kingsport City and Washington County Schools say this summer is about more than schoolwork. Kids will have more opportunities like field trips and engaging activities that the school systems wouldn’t be able to afford without the Covid relief funding from the state and federal government.

“That platform and foundation for creativity that may not have been there before based on limited funds,” said Boyd. “We don’t have unlimited funds, but certainly this injection of funds has really inspired and supported a lot of this creative work that the team has done.”

Both Washington County and Kingsport City Schools programs are four or five days a week and primarily happen in June. Neither system is providing aftercare but both are providing full transportation and two meals a day. Most students will also be at their base school. Enrollment is still open for both districts’ programs.

News Channel 11 reached out to Johnson City, Bristol, Tenn., and Sullivan County Schools for financial information on their programs. We are still waiting to hear back.

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