States were allotted federal money to give “retention bonuses” to certain employees as part of the American Rescue Plan stimulus relief bill, and they are now starting to dole them out.
In March, the Education Department announced the allocation that each state education agency will receive funds totaling $122 billion in relief for K-12 schools. The unprecedented funding was provided to states so that they could act to “fund health and safety measures consistent with CDC guidance, address the disruptions to teaching and learning resulting from the pandemic…and get students back in the classroom quickly and safely.”
The ED also stated that one of the initiatives the funds may be used for was avoiding devastating layoffs and hiring additional educators to address learning loss and providing support to existing staff.
School districts have taken the opportunity to use some of this money as a means to retain teachers that they already have on staff to avoid having them bail in the face of a return to in-person school classes.
Districts in Tennessee, Texas, California and the entire state of Georgina have approved four-figure bonuses in an attempt to stave off teacher resignations and boost staff morale after the pandemic, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Georgia was the first state to start distributing $1,000 statewide bonuses to over 230,000 school employees. This covered nearly every teacher and staff member including assistants, aides, custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria workers. These are all staff that either did not work or were able to work virtually during the pandemic, but will likely be called upon to return at the beginning of the new school year.
Additionally, although the money is allotted for K-12, the Georgia governor’s office and Department of Early Care and Learning are working together to provide the same bonus to pre-K staff through a separate fund source. Part-time employees will also receive funds, although the amount will be that of full-time employees ($500).
Florida also approved retention bonuses, but not all employees were covered to receive the funds. The ED sent a letter to Florida questioning the Governor’s decision and allocation methods.
The Department of Education so far has approved 17 of the 42 state plans for these bonuses. To see if your state is one of them, you can check here.
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Last updated: August 2, 2021