School district votes on teacher bonuses

(KAIT)
Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 10:40 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Pay raises for staff comes with cuts in other places.

A few weeks into the school year Westside Consolidated School District leaders discuss funding options for recommended bonuses

School board members and district leaders met Monday night for a regularly scheduled school board meeting.

Multiple items were on the agenda, including how the district can now use American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds was the main topic.

The district Superintendent, Scott Guantt, explained that those funds are essentially frozen right now.

This happened after the Arkansas Legislative Council recommended teacher bonuses. Those bonuses are to be paid out of ARP-ESSER funds.

According to Guantt, those funds were already allocated to other items in the district budget. So, the district has to cut on other areas to make it happen.

“We’ve had to move some of our summer school and aftercare out of ESSER 3 and into ESSER 2 and down to 1. It is going to take a big chunk out of the proposed air conditioning for the high school gym,” said Guantt.

The board voted unanimously to approve a Retention and Recruitment bonus for teachers and classified staff.

Teachers will receive $5,000 and classified staff will receive $2,500. This will total to about $1.3 million out of about $3 million in ESSER funds the district received.

Guantt said it has to be finalized on paper with specifics when the bonuses will go out. The board will take a final vote on that in the September meeting.

The teacher pay raise debate has been a hot topic recently, as many educators rallied for pay raises during a summer special session.

This one-time bonus was recommended to bridge the gap between the special session and general session in November.