Originally created 12/31/06

School board to consider dual-employment policy



In January, the Aiken County Board of Education will revisit a dual-employment policy that allows some district employees - such as custodians and teacher aides - to also drive school buses.

Board member John Wesley Hightower proposed the study of the policy after residents of Area 3 pointed out that dual employment was not being required in all areas. Areas 3, 4, and 5, which serve mostly rural schools in the district, have employees in dual-employment roles.

"I just want to look at why we in Aiken County are not doing things consistently throughout the county," Mr. Hightower said.

Contracts for dual positions stemmed from a need for extra bus drivers. Randy Stowe, the Area 5 assistant superintendent, said the area would not have enough drivers if it weren't for the dual positions.

"The problem is that we're caught in the middle of the situation," Dr. Stowe said. "If we eliminate the dual contracts, it will eliminate one problem and create another problem, because we cannot find enough drivers. The bigger problem would be not having enough bus drivers."

Dr. Stowe said the bus driver jobs usually are part time, so the combined positions allow employees to work full time, receive benefits and earn extra money.

William Gallman, the deputy superintendent, said area superintendents have the option of advertising positions as dual employment. Usually, only aide positions require classroom time during the same time as bus routes and are the only ones eliminated from dual employment.

"Even if we had 100 extra drivers in an area, if the administrator advertises for the position to be a combination position, you apply for that position," Dr. Gallman said. "You should expect that that is your job no matter what anybody else is doing."

When hired for a dual position, the contract states how many days a district employee has to complete bus-driver training.

"It may be that the administration can find another role for that employee, but it isn't always possible," Dr. Gallman said.

District administrators will meet before the Jan. 9 board meeting to discuss a recommendation for the board about changing the policy.

Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106, or julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com.