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Prince William school board to consider $1,600 end-of-year bonus for teachers, staff

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Prince William County schools’ teachers and employees could receive an end-of-year bonus of as much as $1,600 under a plan the school board will consider this week.

The school board will discuss on Wednesday, June 16, a proposal to spend $20.2 million in “year-end funds,” or money that will be left over at the end of this fiscal year, to provide all active employees a one-time pay adjustment to recognize “the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices made by all Prince William County Public Schools employees during the COVID pandemic,” according to an item on the meeting’s agenda.

Under the proposal, all full-time employees would receive a one-time bonus of $1,600. The amount would be adjusted for those working part-time and for those whose employment began during the middle of the school year. The minimum one-time pay adjustment or bonus would be $500.

All active substitute teachers and staff, temporary employees, and retired employees who earned a minimum of $1,000 this past school year would also receive a one-time pay adjustment of $500, the agenda says.

Students and teachers wrapped up the current school year on Friday, June 11, ending an especially challenging year that began with most students learning remotely with the exception of a few hundred special needs students and those learning English as a second language who began learning in person when the school year began on Sept. 8.

More students returned for in-person instruction gradually late last fall, with the youngest grades returning on a hybrid schedule from Nov. 10 through January, while all other students were permitted to return to in-person instruction two days a week in late February.

Remote instruction continued throughout the school year, as some students learned from home three days a week and others remained fully remote.

For months, members of the school board have been pushing for some kind of hazard pay for teachers and staff or a bonus as a way to recognize the extra work and risk many teachers and staff faced during the pandemic.

During the school board’s June 2 meeting, Deputy Superintendent Keith Imon offered Superintendent Steven Walts’ proposal: a 2% across-the-board bonus for all employees. Imon did not include an overall cost of Walts’ plan. Walts could not attend the meeting because of a family event, Imon said.

School Board Vice Chair Lisa Zargarpur said Saturday that the $1,600 bonus for full-time employees, with the $500 minimum for all employees, is preferred by the board because it provides everyone the same amount.

“We all struggled through this together and everyone had to do more and different work this year,” Zargarpur said in a text message. “The board feels strongly that this is the most fair approach. Part-timers and non-contracted employees will receive something as well.”

The Prince William Education Association, the local union for school division teachers and staff, weighed in on Walts’ proposal on Facebook earlier this week saying they “applaud” the idea of a bonus but do not agree with the 2% across-the-board approach. As an alternative, the PWEA suggested a bonus based on 2% of the average school division salary.

On Saturday, PWEA President Maggie Hansford issued a statement saying Prince William educators and "every member of our school staff worked tirelessly this year and deserves to be celebrated and thanked."

"They deserve recognition for going above and beyond to ensure students were educated and their needs were met during a worldwide pandemic," she added. "We deeply appreciate Superintendent Walts, as one of his last duties, for initiating this bonus."

The school board will meet at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16, in the board chambers of the Edward L. Kelly Leadership Center. The meeting will also be live-streamed via pwcstv.com.

Reach Jill Palermo at jpalermo@fauquier.com

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