Manassas school staff will get bonuses

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Manassas City Public Schools became the latest area public school division to provide its staff members with a one-time bonus last week, when the School Board unanimously approved a $1,600 payment for all full-time employees.

The payments are structured like those in Prince William County Public Schools and Manassas Park City Schools. Part-time employees will receive $500, and the $1,600 will be prorated for any full-time employees who didn’t work the full year.

Andy Hawkins, finance executive director of the Manassas school system, said the division had savings coming out of the 2021 fiscal year, which ended June 30, due to school buildings being largely closed, which meant that fuel costs for the division’s school buses were far lower.

The city also saved on substitute teacher compensation with the school fully virtual for most high schoolers. At the same time, all public school divisions have received substantial amounts of non-recurring funds from the federal government through its stimulus legislation during the pandemic.

The motion was made to approve the bonus after Superintendent Kevin Newman recommended the change. Board Member Suzanne Seaberg said the payments were a way to show staffers how much they’re valued.

“All our staff has had to work extra hard and ini different ways and done many creative things, and I think that this adjustment will help cover that in some way,” she said. “We value our employees. They’re the biggest part of our budget, and we need to make sure that our employees feel valued.”

At the same meeting, the School Board sought public input on how best to spend the more than $10 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, which Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed in March. But no public comment was made, and board member Tim Demeria said the parameters for how the division can spend the money still aren’t fully understood.

He has floated the idea of using some of the money to finance the replacement of Jennie Dean Elementary School, the oldest building in the system. But it’s not yet understood whether the money can be used for construction that was being planned before the pandemic.

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