Fairfax Co. teachers, substitute teachers to receive one-time bonus

Teachers and other school workers in Fairfax County, Virginia, will receive a one-time bonus later this year as part of the school system’s plan to spend unused money from last year’s budget.

The school board voted unanimously Thursday night to approve a plan to spend over $90 million in leftover money from fiscal 2022.

Nearly $34 million will be used to give active, contracted employees a $1,000 bonus, “to recognize the continued impact the pandemic has had on education and to promote retention among staff,” according to school board documents. All full-time employees and hourly contracted employees, like bus drivers, parent liaisons and food services workers, will also receive the $1,000 payment.

Hourly employees, including substitute teachers, will receive a $500 bonus. County officials are working on minimum eligibility requirement for workers in that category.

The bonuses will paid out at the end of November, as they were last year, according to Leigh Burden, the assistant superintendent in the financial services department.

“As the entire world looks at changing workforce trends, we need to be right in the middle of these discussions and on the forefront of changes, to ensure that we maintain a strong workforce, to ensure the continued success and academic achievement of our students,” board member Elaine Tholen said.

Some of the money will also be used to create an incentive for substitute teachers. The state’s largest school system said it hasn’t been able to fill every substitute position as needed. Fill rates on Fridays, the county said, are well below other days of the week. A plan to determine who is eligible to receive the recruitment incentive is underway.

Board member Ricardy Anderson said while she appreciates the funding to recruit more substitute teachers, she’d like the board to consider similar incentives for “hard-to-staff positions, such as special education teachers — really retaining our staff in Title I schools where we tend to have more turnover than in other places.”

Fairfax plans to use $1 million to fund an external, third-party review of safety and security protocols in all school buildings. Upgrades such as adding security vestibules to school entrances and replacing interior locks will also be paid for using some of the leftover money.

The county also plans to conduct a middle school start time survey, which will update a 2020 review of cost and operational requirements needed to make potential changes.

Tholen said the study will “look at creative ways to implement this with minimal cost.”

About $3 million will be allotted for Superintendent Michelle Reid’s strategic reserve, and Tholen said Reid has already “asked for a full review of our hiring processes around background checks and communications with police departments.”

More information on how the county plans to spend the extra money is available online.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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