When Batesville School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Hester spoke briefly from his seat in the back of the White River Health Systems conference room early Monday evening, he spoke of a resolution that he was to present to the district’s Board of Directors that would offer staff a $200 incentive to voluntarily offer proof that they had received the COVID-19 vaccine.

The resolution states that “the Batesville School District shall make a one-time payment of $200, subject to all applicable deductions, to each full-time and part-time contracted employee that volunteers to provide proof of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.”

The proposed resolution said the payment will be available to all Batesville School District contracted employees that voluntarily opt-in to receive the additional pay as part of the plan for safely reopening the Batesville School District for the 2021-2022 school year.

Contracted employees are required to have received at least one vaccine shot by September 1, 2021, to be eligible to receive the additional compensation. Eligible employees will be awarded a one-time additional compensation payment of $200, subject to all applicable taxes, ATRS and deductions.

Eligible employees must provide proof of vaccination by submitting a copy of the employee’s vaccination card or presenting the vaccination card to Central Office personnel for viewing. All information obtained as part of this process will be used only for purposes of verifying eligibility and additional compensation processing and are not subject to release for any other purpose.

Documentation will be accepted in the superintendent’s office until close of business on September 1, 2021. Payments will be processed and provided to eligible staff by September 15, 2021.

Hester said he followed Governor Asa Hutchinson’s lead in crafting the policy.

“We followed the governor’s model,” Hester said via text message to the Batesville Guard.

Hester said Gov. Hutchinson “released this opportunity model on May 20 as a way to not require, but incentivize vaccinations across the state.”

“For schools to use ESSER/ARPA funds to pay employees for such an incentive you must have the approved process and forms in place and adopted by the local board of education for the state and federal auditors to track appropriate budget allocations,” Hester said. “BSD directors wanted to make this incentive available to all staff to make schools as safe as possible for our families. It is retro-active for employees who vaccinated with at least one shot last year and has a deadline of September 1 of this year.”

There is paperwork attached to the agreement that verifies that the employee understands that participation is voluntary as is providing the information needed to verify vaccination.

Employees must also acknowledge that the money is subject to applicable tax deductions and is a one-time payment only. Finally, they must acknowledge that signing is “consenting to the use and disclosure of personal information for the purpose of obtaining a vaccine additional compensation.”

That acknowledgement comes in the form of initialing each line item and signing the document.

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