Archive for Friday, December 16, 2011

First Bell: District employees to receive bonuses during holiday season; Raintree Montessori student lands art in KDHE calendar; First Bell on winter break

December 16, 2011


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Employees of the Lawrence school district soon will be receiving some extra holiday cheer: $1.3 million in one-time payments, to be distributed at this time next week.

The payments come courtesy of the Lawrence school board, which earlier this year decided to dip into reserve funds to finance pay increases for teachers and other licensed educators. The board then extended the benefit to other employees.

Vanessa Sanburn

Vanessa Sanburn

The money going out Dec. 22 is coming in the form of one-time payments, which are much like bonuses and therefore are not added onto employees’ base wages, which otherwise would carry over to the next and subsequent years.

Here’s a rundown of the one-time payments, a.k.a. bonuses:

• Certified employees: $1,000 for each of the district’s full-time certified employees, who are teachers and other licensed educators. Payments to part-time employees will be prorated.

• Classified employees: $521.82 for each of the district’s classified employees, such as office and maintenance staffers. Payments to part-time employees will be prorated.

• Administrators: $766.92 for each of the district’s administrators, both in the central office and in schools. Payments to part-time employees will be prorated.

The money comes from a district contingency fund, one that must have its balance decreased by about $3.1 million this school year to comply with state law.

Vanessa Sanburn, vice president of the school board, said that using some of the money to reward teachers and other district employees was a worthwhile investment — and especially appropriate during the winter holiday season.

“It’s a really good way to spend money you have to spend, to provide benefits for people who really deserve it,” she said, noting that educators’ efforts were helping spur academic gains for students, even as district finances have been on the decline. “Teachers and educators, they work really hard. They’re some of the hardest-working people we have in America, and I don’t think they always get the recognition they deserve.”


A second-grader from Raintree Montessori School in Lawrence is a winner in a statewide contest, landing art in a calendar promoting a program that “demonstrates the importance of good environmental practices as well as things everyone can do to preserve the beauty and natural resources of Kansas.”

Willoughby Lam’s art will be featured in the 2012 “Kansas Don’t Spoil It!” calendar, which is sponsored by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The statewide contest invited kids to submit drawings or paintings depicting a variety of activities — composting, recycling, resource conservation, proper waste disposal, “green” practices and others — and KDHE received thousands of entries.

The calendars will be distributed to schools, local governments and businesses while supplies last. To order a calendar, call (800) 282-9790.


FYI, folks: Winter break comes early for the author of First Bell, as I'll be on vacation next week. But don't worry: I'll be back just in time for schools to be out.


JGr 6 years, 5 months ago

Just for everyone who is going to gripe about public employees getting a "bonus"... this is because the school board's "courtesy" and budget did not extend to actually giving the district employees a raise. Which, as Mark stated, would have extended to next years salary.

ferrislives 6 years, 5 months ago

Welcome to the real world. A lot of people didn't get raises or bonuses, and some even got their pay reduced. It's hard to feel bad about someone getting a bonus right now, because it's better than nothing. I'm sure I'm no the only one that wishes they were in the same boat as district employees, but alas, I'm glad that I have a job at all right now.

GMom05 6 years, 5 months ago

Bonuses are better than nothing. The teachers do deserve it and more. In order to swing actual raises though, the board would have to continue closing more schools probably.

Sunny Parker 6 years, 5 months ago

This disgusts me. There should be NO bonuses! Tired of complaining teachers!

guesswho 6 years, 5 months ago

I hear way many more people complaining about teachers then teachers complaining themselves. It amazes me how teachers have one of the most important jobs in our society, yet are vilified in so many ways.

Bob Forer 6 years, 5 months ago

Can anyone explain why there is a law that sets a limit on the amount of a school district's contingency fund? I don't have any problem with giving teachers a bonus. But I do have a problem with the law that precipitated the bonus payments. Spend it or lose it??? What's wrong with saving it, or, egad, returning it to the taxpayers?

Paul R Getto 6 years, 5 months ago

No. It's not "use it or lose it." They can carry over contingency funds from year-to-year with some limitations. Basically, it's money the board sits on for use when needed. When the state is late with their payments to schools (as they have been almost 1/2 the time recently,) this is one way the district can pay the bills or make payroll. Look for the legislature to discuss this again and try to 'tap' the money or force districts to spend it and take their chances on bouncing checks later when they don't get their monthly allotment. In California, they have given employees 'vouchers' instead of paychecks. Like old Wimpy who would promise to "pay you for a hamburger next Tuesday if you give me one today."

fsteacher 6 years, 5 months ago

The article is missing a crucial piece of information. The "bonus" is part of our contract agreement. This was touched on in the article here: "The payments come courtesy of the Lawrence school board, which earlier this year decided to dip into reserve funds to finance pay increases for teachers and other licensed educators. The board then extended the benefit to other employees." However, that statement still does not make it clear that this was part of the contractual agreement.

Most school districts, including our own, have not been able match our pay with the rate of inflation. This means that despite the fact that the amount of our salaries go up slightly each year, when inflation is taken into account, we are actually getting paid less by the standard of living. The "bonus" was written in as part of our contractual agreement to aid in this difference of money. Extra cash this time of year is nice, but it is not a gift by any means.

Linda Kucza 6 years, 5 months ago

Not a bonus. Just my regular pay that was being held until the district felt they could pay it. Thank you, I am grateful to have it but it isn't anything extra, as a "bonus" would indicate.

Stephen Roberts 6 years, 5 months ago

For everyone complaining about the administrators pay, look who gets more of the "bonus", the teachers and they didn't have to take gross pay cut a year ago to help balance the budget. The classified staff gets hosed at the district.

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