Stanly school board expresses problems with staffing service

Published 4:57 pm Wednesday, October 11, 2023

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Issues with the service which staffs bus drivers, teacher assistants and substitute teachers for Stanly County Schools were discussed at the Board of Education’s recent work session.

School Board member Dustin Lisk called the contract with ESS, a company which manages staffing for educational institutions, “a one-sided agreement.”

According to Lisk, SCS can’t hire any staff who worked for ESS for 12 months after June 30 of this year. However, ESS may hire SCS employees immediately.

“They were stealing our employees,” Lisk said.

SCS received a renewal notice of the contract, which Lisk said would mean former ESS employees could not work for SCS for an additional 12 months, until June 2025.

“In my opinion, any new agreement better have that non-solicitation (clause) taken out,” Lisk said. “I can not believe that a lawyer for the school system did not put a non-solicit (clause) in there for us.”

Lisk said he had a list of 10 ESS teacher assistants who were willing to drive a bus, but the information was not available before.

He said while the base pay for SCS is slightly lower than ESS ($15 compared to $16.72 per hour), counting paid time off, health benefits and pension raises the SCS total compensation rate to $25.06 per hour.

SCS Finance Director Terry Dudney said an amendment to the agreement was brought to Superintendent Dr. Jarrod Dennis which would move individuals to hourly pay. The reason was “so they would only be paid the hours they worked with ESS, then we would hire them as bus drivers and pay them.”

Dudney said only one person decided to that, which along with the information from Lisk led him to conclude “as the finance director of a school system understand that (ESS is) not willing to take a cut in what they did to help us with our bus driver shortage…that makes me furious.”

The director said he has been told from bookkeepers in the schools when SCS fills a classroom absence internally, not through ESS, they are being told to mark on the software no sub was needed. Dudney said ESS doing that would “skew their numbers and make their fill rate look great.”

Lisk said SCS has to do the marketing for employees for ESS.

“We are giving them all of our resources to hire employees that then we can’t go get, but they can take ours,” Lisk said. “They are not a good partner.”

The contract was signed years ago when Dr. Jeff James was SCS superintendent.

SCS is in its last fiscal year of the contract with ESS.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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