By Erica Thomas, managing editor
LEEDS — When he learned that retired NBA star Charles Barley was giving $1,000 to all Leeds City Schools employees, Superintendent John Moore said he was in awe of the tremendous show of support, but he wasn’t at all surprised.
Barkley is gifting the money to employees for their efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been an extremely taxing school year,” said Moore. “We’ve had a lot of stress and we’ve all had to learn to dance in the rain this year. The quarantines and hybrid, virtual learning have truly worn out every education employee in America. They are to be commended for going the extra mile and Charles recognizes that.”
The total amount of money is $280,000.
Moore said he was told about the money by Barkley’s accountant. The school system worked on a way to make the donation happen legally. Employees will see the money on their paycheck this Friday. They will be able to spend the money however they wish.
Leeds City Schools never shut down during the pandemic. Moore said employees chugged along as best they could.
Barkley, who graduated from Leeds High School in 1981, has always been supportive of his community and he doesn’t ask for recognition, according to Moore. In fact, he said he has provided over $3 million in scholarships to Leeds graduates over the past three decades.
“There is a statue of him in front of Leeds High School,” Moore said. “He has given $100,000 a year for scholarships for about 30 years, for Leeds graduates and he renews scholarships. It really gives a lot of kids a leg up and a head-start to go to school.”
“We calculate several hundred students have been granted the gift,” Moore added. “These are substantial scholarships. It counts, it matters and it has mattered to our community. It’s just a very beautiful thing and he is a treasure to Leeds.”
The hometown hero also provided laptops for virtual learners, Wifi Hotspots and secured donations from Clorox Corporation to help keep schools sanitary.