Prince William weighs $1,600 bonus for teachers, staff; most get coin in Loudoun as pandemic thanks

The Prince William County School Board is set to vote Wednesday on a plan that would provide financial thanks to Virginia teachers and staff in a one-time bonus — up to $1,600 each — at the end of the pandemic-riddled academic year.

However, in neighboring Loudoun County, most Loudoun County school employees received a challenge coin and an appreciative note of thanks from Superintendent Scott Ziegler.

According to an agenda item, the Prince William County Board would approve the use of $20,207,427 in funds available at the end of the fiscal year to pay for the across-the-board bonus, “for the purpose of recognizing the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices made by all Prince William County Public Schools employees during the COVID pandemic.”

Under the plan, active full-time employees would receive $1,600. Part-time employees would receive a prorated amount, as would employees who started working for the school system midway through the school year, with a minimum of $500.

Active substitutes in Prince William, as well as temporary and retired employees who earned $1,000 during the school year, would receive $500.

However, the Loudoun County board voted to approve bonus pay for a much smaller group of employees, rather than an across-the-board bonus. LCPS has more than 16,000 employees, including part-timers.

On June 8, the Loudoun school board approved bonuses for 342 school-based administrative staff, including principals, assistant principals, deans, counseling directors, academies coordinators and directors received $2,000 each.

The school system’s nine assistant superintendents were also voted a $1,000 per month prorated bonus.

The Loudoun school board also awarded $2,000 bonuses to the 320 administrators, nurses and support staff that provided COVID-19 vaccinations, in the Point of Distribution — or POD.

Brenda Sheridan, chair of the Loudoun County School Board, did not immediately respond to WTOP emailed requests for comment. Her voicemail system was full.

In an email to staff members shortly after the board’s awarding bonuses to select employees, Superintendent Ziegler said it had been an honor to work shoulder-to-shoulder during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As a token of my appreciation for our work together, please accept the challenge coin which will be presented to you as a symbol of our service this year,” wrote Ziegler. “Your grit and grace, your continued flexibility and especially your ‘patience with the not yet known’ allowed us to continue to adjust to changing circumstances and adhere to the vision of education and empowering all students to make meaningful contributions to the world.”

The Prince William County bonus was recommended by retiring superintendent Steve Walts. The board has been searching for a way to reward staff for willingness to work through the hazards of the pandemic, during the phased return to in-person learning.

Under the plan, the balance of the year-end funds would be reserved for other uses, based on the uncertainty of enrollment.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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