Employees of the San Diego Unified School District may be getting an end-of-year gift that will easily eclipse bouquets, bottles or whatever else the tykes' parents made them force-march to the last day of classes on Tuesday.
A tentative agreement between the district and the San Diego Education Association, the union representing the district's workers, that was inked on June 10 would pay every worker in the district, including its newly minted superintendent, Lamont Jackson, a one-time 4.5% bonus in the coming school year.
Extrapolating from last year's 2021-22 budget, which was $1.7 billion — 90% of which was "people," as a district spokeswoman told NBC 7 on Monday — that could represent an outlay of nearly $69 million. That's a lot of pencils. The money, the representative said, would not be coming out of the district's general fund, but rather, would be drawn from money from the federal pandemic relief Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund granted to the district. NBC 7 has asked the district for a projected figure for the costs of the bonus but has not yet been told that amount.
The bonuses would be paid out to the approximatley 14,000 employees in installments over the course of the coming school year.
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The largesse is strategic, according to the district, and is focused on avoiding staffing shortages and retaining and hiring new staff that, along with their normal educational duties, also have to deal with continued COVID mitigation due to the pandemic.
“This agreement allows us to recruit and retain the best and brightest to work at our schools while also recognizing the incredible work that our educators continue to do under difficult circumstances,” Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, the president of the San Diego Unified Board of Education, is quoted as saying in a news release issued on Monday.,
While figures for the average teacher salary were unavailable when requested on Tuesday, an official did say that the starting salary for a new teacher with one credential would be $50,743 — which translates to a potential bonus of $2,283.46.
You may be wondering: Would newly minted Superintendent Lamont Jackson, who inked a $375,000-a-year deal in March, get the 4.5% bump?
"Yes, he’s eligible to receive the bonus, which is consistent with prior superintendents and practices at San Diego Unified," district public informaton coordinator Mike Murad told NBC 7 in an email.
Back-of-the-envelope math: $375,000x0.045=$16,875. Also a lot of pencils.
The bonus, of course, would go some way toward mitigating soaring inflation for both teachers and Jackson. At last check, inflation was at 8.6%.
The bonus was not the only move being undertaken in the tentative agreement. City schools officials are also offering five-figure "hiring incentives" to entice applicants for some especially hard-to-fill positions. The district said in a news release issued on Tuesday that prospective hires for special-education teaching and school-nursing positions will be offered $10,000, also to be paid out during the course of the 2022-23 school year.
The tentative agreement between the district and the SDEA will need to be ratified by both parties. In the case of the school board, that will likely take place at a meeting to be held later this month.