Superior School Board extends emergency pay for staff

The move ensures hourly staff get paychecks through the end of the school year.

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At a special meeting Monday, April 6, the Superior School Board extended emergency paid leave for support staff through the end of the school year — June 4 for school-year staff, June 30 for year-round employees.

The Board had previously approved 15 emergency leave days for hourly support staff on March 18 in response to Gov. Tony Evers’ order to close schools for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. That measure only covered payroll through April 13.

“Thank you for having this special meeting,” District Administrator Amy Starzecki told board members, four of whom attended virtually. “I was having support staff wonder what was going to happen after Monday of next week and I know that creates anxiety.”

Paying staff through the end of the year was already factored into the district budget. If the state begins to lift restrictions this spring, Starzecki said, the district would ask staff to return to work in different capacities. The board's action, however, gives a long-term plan for the 2019-20 school year.

“We wanted to make sure if they aren’t able to come back in they have a paycheck through the end of the school year,” she said.


Business Manager Alayna Burger said response pay was being offered to support staff who continue to work during the pandemic, including transportation and food service workers, custodians and building engineers. She estimated it would cost the district an additional $120,000, which should be outweighed by savings in areas like utilities and fuel costs.

Some board members questioned whether engineers should receive the extra pay, as building checks were already in their job description and the work wouldn’t be considered hazardous. Others asked if the district could take this time to get a head start on summer deep cleaning projects while the buildings were shuttered.

“My priorities are keeping my staff safe,” Starzecki said. “Every district is doing things a little bit differently.”

The district is providing protective equipment for staff who continue to work, and she said she expected to provide an update on that at the April 13 Regular Board Meeting.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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