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      Richland One restores incentive and longevity pay

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Around 200 office workers, custodians and bus drivers returned to the Richland One School Board meeting in protest on Tuesday.

      This spring, the district eliminated longevity pay and reduced incentives for classified employees.

      For 27 years, support staff has been able to take advantage of longevity pay. Workers annually could earn additional money for continuous years of service.

      The incentive points program would give eligible employees the chance to also earn extra pay based on professional development participation.

      At Tuesday TMs school board meeting, members had a change of heart, and voted to restore the loss of the plans

      I am a very surprised because at the last meeting I was told by one of the board members "you can just leave," so that was not very encouraging, said school nurse Rita Stanley.

      The changes to the longevitivity pay and incentive program impacted 197 people.

      The loss of the longevity pay for a bus driver is worth maybe three or four days of their pay, said bookkeeper Rose Hallberg.

      Officials say the reductions were initially made in response to the district's cutbacks. Richland One has lost more than $16 million in funding in the past two years.

      85 percent of our budget is devoted to personnel, says Richland One Spokeswoman Karen York, so we have been trying to avoid impacting staff as much as possible.