Teacher bonuses discussed in Douglas County
Bonuses for Douglas County School District employees will be extended to those transferring into the district from other districts in Nevada, DCSD Director of Business Services Rick Kester said Thursday.
A bill passed by the Nevada Legislature provided school districts throughout the state with additional funding for administrative, classified and certified employee bonuses. Douglas County School District will receive approximately $806,000 in restricted monies to be spent specifically on employee bonuses.
“The law allocated a lump sum of around $800,000 to the district and the district simply passes it through,” said Marty Cronin, president of the Douglas County Professional Education Association. “The district has absolutely no say in the allocation of this money. It is absolutely non-negotiable.”
The district originally planned to pay eligible employees a bonus of approximately 3 percent of their 2001-02 salaries. Intended as a retention bonus, the increase would go to all contracted employees who worked in the district during any portion of last school year and who are employed by and working for the district on Sept. 15.
This includes food service and grant-funded positions but disqualifies substitutes, retirees, anyone who left or leaves the district prior to Sept. 15, all new hires who are not transferring from another district in Nevada, individuals not formally contracted and those on leave during 2000-01 or this school year.
Eligible new hires, who are not transferring from within the state, will receive a $2,000 sign-on bonus which does not come out of the $806,000 fund.
At first, the district was not going to pay bonuses to employees transferring from other Nevada districts.
“Initially they were going to be paid by the district they were leaving,” said Kester, adding there was some confusion surrounding this issue. “We were never trying to exclude anyone but we thought it was going to be taken care of. Once all of this is cleared up – which it pretty much is cleared up now – once it’s clear about who’s paying what, we will take a consent item to the school board that will include Nevada transferred employees who were not paid the bonus by their former district.”
Cronin said many teachers also thought Nevada transfers would be paid by their previous districts.
“It was never our intention to short anyone,” Cronin said. “We believed in good faith that people coming to us had been compensated by their districts of origin.”
Bonus checks for Nevada transfers means the $806,000 sum will have to go a little further than expected, but Kester said he hopes bonus amounts will stay around 3 percent.
“It will be dividing the pie into smaller pieces because Nevada teachers who transfer for instance, they’re excluded from the new hire bonus so if we didn’t include them they would receive nothing and that’s not fair,” Kester said. “We’re going to use 100 percent of the money plus every bit of interest it earns to go to the bonus but until we know the pot of people (involved) we can’t divide the amount to see what it would be. Our hope is to keep it up to about 3 percent.”
Cronin said the bonus amount allotted by the state was based on the 1999-2000 salary schedules and would not even come close to equaling a 3 percent bonus when adjusted to 2001-02 salaries.
“I’m looking at the allocation of the money, actually I’ve been working on this for weeks, and I finally have figured out what this is all about is the lump sum of $806,000 and how to divide it,” Cronin said. “The constant reference to this being a 2.9 percent bonus is erroneous. It will never be a 2.9 bonus. It’s up to the association and the district to come to an understanding about how that money will be divided amongst the eligible employees. The relative proportions could change based on seniority and salary credits. People will move on the salary schedule horizontally from where they were in 1999-2000.”
According to Cronin, some teachers said bonuses for Nevada transfers should come from district funds, not the state bonus money, which was meant to be a retention reward.
“It was their perception that somehow this money would be paid by Douglas County,” Cronin said. “They’re basically saying the state only allotted so much money and Douglas should be paying for those who transfer in. They want the county to supplement the bonuses.”
Cronin said the association is not asking the district to supplement that money.
“We have other priorities established for negotiations,” he said. “We don’t want to limit district access to supplement the bonus. We’re happy to take what the state offers as a bonus and move forward with our negotiations agenda as it stands.”
All employees who meet the designated criteria should be paid the increase on their Oct. 31 paychecks. Paycheck stubs will identify the dollar amount of the bonus separately.
“If they’re here working on Sept. 13 and they worked for us last year or are coming from another Nevada district, then they will get it,” Kester said. “The same criteria are applied across the board to administrators, teachers and classified staff. There are no special rules for anyone.”
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