School Board votes for experience-based bonuses

Published 10:03 pm Monday, June 20, 2011

The School Board voted 6-1 Monday to award one-time bonuses for all school employees based on their longevity with Suffolk Public Schools.

The dissenting vote belonged to board member Diane Foster, who preferred to award 2-percent bonuses to all school employees.

The adopted policy divides the employees into five tiers based on the number of years they have been with the school division. Bonuses will range from $520 to $1,240.

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All 10- and 12-month contracted school employees are eligible for the bonuses, excluding employees who started on or after May 1 and employees facing dismissal due to disciplinary action.

Director of Finance Mike Brinkley said the division plans to give out the bonuses in lump sums before the end of June.

Board chairman Mike Debranski said he thought the adopted policy was fair. He said he thought it was important to award higher bonuses to employees who had been with the school division longer.

“It covers everyone that has been with us,” he said.

Vice chair Thelma Hinton was in favor of the option for a different reason. She said she thought it best covered the employees who have lower salaries but have been with the division for a long time, such as bus drivers and custodians.

The bonuses are being funded by part of a city budget surplus. City Council gave the School Board $1.68 million to use for bonuses.

At Monday’s meeting, board member Linda Bouchard said she had a problem with City Council making the decision about how the surplus should be used.

She said she felt like the council had told them what to do with the money, and if the board members didn’t do it, they would be viewed as “ogres.”

Board member Enoch Copeland said he agreed with Bouchard that it was unusual for the council to decide what should be done with the funds, but he added he was just grateful they were able to provide bonuses for school employees.

School employees did not receive money from the city for bonuses last year. However, a federal grant provided funds for bonuses for school employees in December.

The December bonuses were flat rates of $300 for administrators and $500 for support personnel and teachers.