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Neighboring school districts have approved staff bonuses. Will Guilford County Schools follow suit?

Piedmont Triad News

(WGHP) — Guilford County Schools is surrounded on all sides by school districts that, unlike GCS, have approved staff bonuses thanks to relief funds.

Where are these bonuses coming from?

Congress set aside about $13.2 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. The funds are meant to support schools by providing emergency relief funds and alleviating some of the strain schools are seeing from the COVID-19 pandemic.

While not all of GCS’s neighboring school districts are using ESSER funds directly to pay for bonuses, some are using local funds for bonuses so they can prioritize ESSER funds for other projects. Either way, these bonuses would not be possible without that additional funding.

The school districts that have approved bonuses say these are meant to reward teachers for staying as part of an effort to improve staff retention.

What’s GCS doing with the money?

As of Tuesday morning, Guilford County Schools has not announced any bonuses for staff, but Tuesday’s meeting agenda includes time for a discussion on staff bonuses. Board Member Deborah Napper is listed as the lead in that discussion.

Guilford County Schools has, however, begun offering sign-on bonuses with the hopes of recruiting new employees.

In July, Guilford County Schools announced a $20,000 signing bonus available for newly hired teachers. There are specific criteria they must meet, and they must agree to work for three years in one of the district’s lowest-performing schools. The bonus is available to teachers who can show two consecutive years of student growth data.

“This bonus is just one step in our plans to recruit, retain and reward our staff,” said Kyva Jones, GCS director of recruiting, in July. “We know that stellar teachers can make the greatest difference in our students’ academic recovery, and those teachers deserve to be paid accordingly.”

Guilford County Schools includes a breakdown on how the district is using ESSER funds on the district website.

In addition to funding for instructional materials, closing the digital divide and reopening schools, Guilford County Schools is putting more than $50 million in ESSER funds towards “recruiting, retaining and rewarding highly effective staff.” This includes:

  • $32.8 million for recruitment and retention incentives for high need subject areas and low-performing schools.
  • $3.4 million for teacher residencies for math.
  • $1.7 million for tuition assistance for classified and support staff/alternatives pathways to teaching.
  • $750,000 for support for human resource recruitment efforts.
  • $11.5 million for partnerships to retain high quality teachers (filling long-term sub and other hard-to-fill vacancies.

What are other school districts doing?

Alamance-Burlington School System

  • $3,000 one-time bonus to full and part-time employees
  • $500 for substitutes who work 20 days before 11/30

Davidson County Schools

Randolph County Schools

  • $5,000 to all full-time staff (portion of that for part time depending on how much they work)
  • $2,500 signing bonus
  • $1,000 bonus for subs depending on how much they work

Rockingham County Schools

  • $4,000 for all staff split between this year and next year

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

  • $1,000 for all staff approved in October
  • December: $700 for teachers, $500 all other employees
  • May: $700 for teachers, $500 all other employees

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