School Board approves bonuses

Published 6:08 pm Friday, March 11, 2022

The Suffolk School Board, by a 6-0 vote Thursday, approved bonuses for division staff ranging from $500 to $2,000.

Superintendent John B. Gordon III said in a memo outlining the bonuses that the COVID-19 pandemic has put more work and stress on the division’s employees working in schools and for the administration as it follows protocols and adapts to near-daily changes in those protocols while serving students in person and online, bringing them to and from schools and sanitizing facilities and equipment.

“Our dedicated staff have all stepped up to the plate and have developed and provided all that we need to serve students of Suffolk no matter what the changes and circumstances,” Gordon said in the memo.

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The $500 bonuses will go to part-time adult education teachers, English language learner tutors, algebra-readiness tutors, part-time safety monitors and part-time nurse assistants, while $1,000 bonuses will go to priority substitutes and long-term substitutes who were employed and working from Nov. 1 to March 31. The $2,000 bonuses will go to full-time staff.

The bonus money will be paid on employees’ April 8 payroll checks.

The estimated $4.39 million for the bonuses will come from compensation savings from division vacancies throughout the school year and additional, pending state funding.

School division staff received bonuses in December 2020:  $500 for full-time staff and $250 for permanent part-time and long-term substitutes. The $1.1 million for the 2020 bonuses came from the more than $3.2 million in reversion money, which City Council had reappropriated to the Suffolk Public Schools division earlier that year.

Division staff received a second round of bonuses last May ranging from $300 for certain part-time staff to $1,000 for full-time staff. The $300 went to part-time adult education teachers, part-time algebra-readiness tutors and part-time English language learner tutors. A $500 bonus went to part-time safety monitors, part-time nurse assistants and permanent part-time staff. Full-time staff, long-term substitutes and priority substitutes received a $1,000 bonus.

The close to $2.2 million for last spring’s bonuses came from savings while the division was in virtual learning, additional federal money and the state holding school divisions “harmless” for their average daily membership in their revenue calculation.

New teachers also receive a $250 bonus when they start with the division.

Board member Sherri Story was not at Thursday’s meeting and did not vote. In his proposed $232.5 million budget for next school year, Gordon has proposed pay raises for teachers ranging from 7.46% to 8.26%, 5% to 5.5% for support staff and 5.84% for bus drivers, which he said is needed to be competitive with other school divisions in the region and keep people from leaving for higher pay elsewhere.