Amherst County Public School full-time employees will receive a $500 bonus and part-timers are getting $250 as a gesture of appreciation in wrapping up an unprecedented year of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To provide the type of education that they did in these conditions was pretty amazing,” Superintendent Rob Arnold said in thanking the staff for its work.
The Amherst County School Board approved the measure during its June 10 meeting, which marked the last official day of school. Arnold said the division is set to finish the fiscal year at the end of the month with a $1.1 million surplus.
The bonus measure costs about $350,000 and the remaining $660,000 of the anticipated surplus would go to the division’s capital improvement plan, Arnold said.
“We certainly have the ability, in terms of our budget, to do this,” Arnold said of distributing the bonus.
Board members thanked the teachers, administrators and all employees in completing a year that included a slew of mitigation strategies to protect against the virus, hybrid instruction of in-person and remote learning and changes from the normal flow of school operations.
“It’s been a year like no other,” Vice Chair Abby Thompson said in expressing appreciation for employees’ efforts. “This [bonus] is just a drop in the bucket. We can’t thank you enough.”
Board members noted how difficult the year was in all the many challenges in the classroom, keep students safe and properly socially distanced, instructing hundreds of students online, taking temperature readings as part of COVID-19 screening and distributing meals.
“It has been such a team effort,” Thompson said.
Board member John Grieser said he was pleased employees were able to receive a 4% raise and an end-of-year bonus, noting it is much deserved.
The board also unanimously approved a resolution in support of all ACPS teachers and education staff for persevering through the school year with “unquantifiable contributions” and upholding the goal of meeting the needs of every child every day.
Melissa Larkin, mother of a Monelison Middle School student, addressed the board and praised teachers for her son’s education this year amid the challenging environment.
“These teachers this year — they did not miss an email or phone call,” Larkin said. “I was very scared going into this year. Honestly, I didn’t think we would make it past a month and we would all be [in virtual learning]. So thank everyone for their hard work. I’m glad we made it through the school year. You are all appreciated.”