School Employees Get Back Their Money

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – A major victory for employees of Richland School District One. They waged a battle with district officials, and won.

While on summer break, some workers received a letter stating their pay would be cut. District officials said it was in an effort to save jobs, but the workers did not buy it.

“After 27 years, they have cut my pay by taking away the longevity and incentive pay we worked for,” said employee Darlee Lewter.

Lewter began receiving bonuses when the district started awarding them in 1983, until this summer. Along with several reductions in this year’s budget, longevity pay was eliminated and incentives, cut in half. The district’s strategy was to cut certain employees’ in order to keep jobs, and prevent things like furloughs, base salary changes, and changes to benefits.

“Making those changes saved about $900,000,” said district spokesperson, Karen York.

However, when non-certified, or classified employees like bus drivers and cafeteria workers, learned those savings came at their expense, the district’s plan backfired, forcing employees to speak out.

Richland One’s school board responded. At its meeting Tuesday, Dr. Jasper Salmond made a motion that the longevity and incentive pay be restored to the nearly 1,200 workers it was taken away from. Board member, Barbara Scott even apologized to employees for voting for the cuts in the first place. The board voted unanimously to give back the money.

“I really appreciate what Dr. Salmond did for us because I really thought it was unfair,” said worker, Trice Washington.

“I’m happy. I can get that new car now,” said Darlee Lewter.