The district and board of trustees discussed the amended compensation plan at the Nov. 5 meeting. Approval is pending a board vote Nov. 19.
This is an alternative to the 2% one-time payment suggested in May, which was in lieu of a permanent raise in the 2020-21 budget. The 2% payment was dependent on the school district reaching student enrollment criteria. Enrollment was about 1,000 students short of the 43,100 criteria on Oct. 30.
The district would provide full-time employees with an $800 stipend, and 0.5 full-time equivalent employees would receive $400. Payments would be given in December, according to the district.
The plan also includes the hiring of a third-party vendor to provide substitutes at a 100% fill rate. The district said listening sessions showed a need for additional substitutes, said Karie Lynn McSpadden, the district’s chief human resources officer.
Board Member Elexis Grimes said the stipends are a small gesture of kindness to teachers. She said many teachers have spent their own money this school year on computers, audio equipment and other items.
The district set aside $5.4 million for the now unfulfilled one-time payments, which would cover the approved stipends and vendor hiring. The amended plan will not require a budget amendment.
Board member Aaron Johnson raised concerns about the district’s current budget deficit, and he questioned how the stipends would affect the district’s existing fund balance.
In response, Board Member Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia said a global pandemic is an example of a time to use the fund balance. She said the district’s choice to give stipends is important for educators’ morale.
Superintendent Bruce Gearing said the conversation should be focused on the opportunity to support teachers in a difficult time.
“I think we have an opportunity now to do something to help support our teachers," he said. "And not just our teachers but all of our staff."