School Board plans bonuses

Published 10:09 pm Monday, November 8, 2010

Suffolk Public Schools plans to hand out bonuses, create new positions and retain dozens more positions with federal jobs money it is receiving.

The schools are receiving about $3.4 million from Federal Education Jobs Fund legislation, the School Board learned in its Monday meeting. Passed in August, the fund set aside a pot of $10 billion in additional funding to states for support of local schools. Virginia received $249.5 million.

About $1.18 million will be used to hand out bonuses for contracted employees, the School Board decided. Teachers and support personnel will receive $500 each with their Dec. 15 paycheck. Administrators will receive $300.

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According to Michael Brinkley, executive director of finance, 72 positions in Suffolk Public Schools do not qualify to receive bonuses with the federal funding. However, those employees — mostly support office and central office personnel — will receive bonuses from the operating fund, Brinkley said.

“We want to treat all employees fairly and equally,” Brinkley said.

To receive the bonuses, employees must not have any pending disciplinary action such as termination, Brinkley said. He added school employees’ last raise came in July 2008.

With the rest of the money, the schools plan to continue 43 positions that currently are funded with federal stimulus dollars. However, stimulus funds expire next year, while the education jobs funds are available through September 2013.

In addition, superintendent Deran Whitney proposed three additional positions to be funded with the money. The positions — academic coaches for each of the high schools — would work with students at risk of dropping out to help keep them in school.

Furthermore, nearly $200,000 of the money would go to Standards of Learning remediation, and about $33,000 would be used to offer tuition assistance to teachers who are continuing their education.

The School Board voted to accept the recommendation. It will be incorporated into the operating budget proposal.

In a September letter to City Council members letting them know of the money, City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn wrote that she hopes information on the money’s use will be included in the sustainability plan she has requested from the schools and other city partner organizations.

In May, Cuffee-Glenn requested that the schools, the Western Tidewater Community Services Board, the Western Tidewater Health District and Virginia Cooperative Extension submit sustainability plans detailing how they will address funding shortfalls they covered this year with stimulus money and other “one-time” funding opportunities.

“In light of this announcement of an additional allocation of ‘one-time’ federal funding to support recurring operating salary expenses, I will inquire from the interim superintendent of the Suffolk Public Schools if he plans to incorporate the intended use for these funds into their sustainability plan,” Cuffee-Glenn wrote.