School District Shells Out Half a Million Bucks in Bonuses
by Heather McDonald City-Times Staff
Citing difficult economic times facing school staff the past two years, the Stevens Point Area School District Board approved providing staff what could be considered a bonus for their work last school year.
The School Board on Monday unanimously agreed to give each of the roughly 1,000 employees – not including administrators – an additional $588 in supplemental pay for their performance last year.
Member Lisa Totten recused herself from the discussion and vote. Administrators were not eligible due to their existing contract with the district.
This is the first year staff has received a bonus, officials said. Typically, when the district operates within its budget and is able to “save money” throughout the year, those remaining dollars go into a cash balance, a fund similar to a family’s or individual’s savings account.
This year, however, district officials decided to give staff a one-time supplement.
In order to qualify, employees must have worked the entire school year. Part-time employees received a pro-rated amount. Those who retired following the school year also qualified, but anyone who retired prior to the end of the school year did not.
“The supplemental payment was provided as a means of valuing our employees while being fiscally responsible,” Superintendent Attila Weninger said.
The approximately 450 teachers in the district received the dollars with a letter from the district on Aug. 28 while other non-administration staff such as food service and custodial workers received the pay on Aug. 21.
Pat Leahy, president of the Stevens Point Area Education Association which continues bargaining for a contract for the 2011-12 school year, said the group welcomes the action.
“We appreciate the one-time bonus and anticipate that the school board will engage in meaningful wage negotiations … that result in a settlement that compensates staff for the work they do,” he said.
The roughly $588,000 total supplement comes from funds the district did not spend during the school year, officials said.
“There is always a cash balance from the previous operating budget for possible use for pay adjustments,” Board President Dwight Stevens said.
Despite that, district officials would not earmark those remaining dollars for annual bonuses. The decision to offer supplemental pay in the future would be determined each year, Weninger said.
Providing the supplemental payment not only shows recognition to district staff, but financially helps the district as well, he said.
“The state provides aid to districts for certain expenditures. If those expenditures aren’t made, then in essence, districts lose the opportunity for state aid,” Weninger said.
Officials did not indicate which state aid funds the supplemental pay came from or whether it was a combination of funds.