FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – Staff at Franklin County Public Schools can expect a bonus coming their way all in the name of retention.
A big reason why people are walking out the door at Franklin County schools is their low salaries.
Since 2018, Loretta Yopp worked as a bus driver for the school district, but after making less than $1,000 a month, she said she could not afford to make ends meet. Because of her low income, she decided to quit about a month ago.
“You can’t live on that, especially with gas prices the way they are. Food is going up and everything,” Yopp said. “We just need to be a competitive market.”
To combat this, Franklin County School Board agreed Monday night to give a $1,000 retention bonus to full-time staff and $500 to part-time employees.
“I think it shows the employees that we appreciate their efforts,” Franklin County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Bernice Cobbs said. “Not only does it take our professional staff but it takes our classified staff to support an effective school division.”
Cobbs said it will cost $1.4 million to pay the retention bonuses for about 1,200 school employees and said the state’s new budget helps by also providing staff a five percent salary raise. Cobbs said she knows more needs to be done but is appreciative anytime state legislators can help.
While Yopp appreciates the effort, she said it’s just not enough. She said substitute bus drivers should go from making $54 a day to at least $90 a day.
“They’re losing people,” Yopp said. “The bonus is nice., but we need the pay. We need the increase in the pay.”
According to Yopp, the school district needs 16 bus drivers and is worried that the low wages will still pose a problem to attract new hires.
Yopp suggested turning to county residents for help and said if residents pay a 2% tax, the extra money could help increase wages to help retain and attract employees.
But until then, Yopp is paying high gas prices on her 45-minute commute to her new full-time job in Roanoke County.