The Carson City School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted to adjust the annual pay for performance amount for 2021-22 from $100,000 to $500,000, increasing teachers’ one-time stipend after a lengthy discussion about other potential uses for the fund.
District fiscal services officer Andrew Feuling reported to the board that it historically set aside $100,000 to cover a $100 payment initially to about 1,000 employees established in 2016 as part of the board’s regular annual budgeting process. With its total vacancies and the state’s trends in the public and private sectors this year, CCSD likely would come under budget, increasing the stipend amount for staff members if the trustees chose to do so.
“This presents an opportunity in vacancy savings, which is fairly significant,” Feuling told the board.
He asked to clarify the item as originally described on the agenda, making sure it was understood the entire amount was for $500,000, not on top of the $100,000 as listed.
Feuling noted the original one-time $100 per employee typically has been paid between December and February of the school year, based on feedback from various departments, though it can be distributed any time through June. It is intended as a message of appreciation from the district in recognition of classified, certified and administration members’ good work.
This past year, in particular, Superintendent Richard Stokes said, teachers have taken on additional duties beyond what’s been required due to COVID-19.
“I want to remind everyone that we have been working without the staff that we intended to have this school year, and because of that, it has placed extra burden on our current staff members,” he said.
Stokes described giving staff members extra preparation time, challenges finding substitutes and teachers who have doubled up for lessons or other classroom scenarios where CCSD employees have exceeded expectations.
“Consequently, we thought that this might be a way to pass along a message of appreciation by providing this bonus amount at Christmas time, and these dollars are moneys that have been saved because we haven’t been able to hire staff,” Stokes said. “Just along those lines of thinking, I just want to make sure that we’re clear on the intent that didn’t come from no thought. It came about because we had this condition and we were saying to our folks, ‘Thank you for working as hard as you have.’”
Board President Joe Cacioppo asked if the funds could be applied to enrichment programming for students in need.
CCSD, a local educational agency receiving funds through the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, already has certain before and afterschool programming available, according to Tasha Fuson, associate superintendent of educational services. But other concerns emerged as the district required its schools to write their loss of learning plans for the ESSER funding, she told the board. Most notably, this includes lack of staffing, which has resulted in extra funds that the district has had to determine how to use. Paraprofessionals, for example, remain one of CCSD’s highest categories of vacancies.
“That money will not be spent if we cannot get folks to take on those (afterschool) roles,” Fuson said. “Every school has a learning loss plan to set aside additional learning when we’re trying to rewrite that grant in January.”
Trustee Laurel Crossman offered up using the funds to hire students as tutors at the elementary level, with Feuling saying while it hasn’t been fully discussed how to use the ESSER funds in other ways, it was a possibility.
The conversation returned to the decision about the performance pay with Jose Delfin, associate superintendent of human resources, also noting classified staff members and administrators are substituting in classes on a more regular basis.
“It’s affected every level,” Delfin said. “I can tell you we’re all breathing heavy.”
The motion was approved 6-0, with Trustee Mike Walker absent from the meeting.