SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– It may feel like Christmas for Sioux Falls teachers and not just because of the snow.
Last night the school board approved a one-time bonus that will mean an extra $800 for full-time staff members.
Like parents, teachers and other district staff members are often pulling double duty as we all try to keep our kids safe during the pandemic. Not only are teachers taking care of the kids in their classrooms, they then have to shift gears and tend to the kids learning from home. Because of this, the Sioux Falls School Board voted to give staff members an extra $800 one time bonus. Board President Cynthia Mickelson says it’s nice to offer some good news for a change.
Tom Hanson: What was the discussion like among the board members when you guys started this idea?
“It was all positive, everybody wanted to look at a way as long as we could financially do it without, you know we have a decrease in enrollment this year, so obviously that’s a budget issue so we want to be fiscally sound to our taxpayers, yet give as much as we can to our staff while they are going through this hard and very difficult time,” Cynthia Mickelson said.
Part of the money comes from federal funds funneled through the state at $500 per student. Teachers like Paul Rajski appreciate the gesture. He teaches art at Hayward Elementary.
“To be lucky to be able to have that extra, you know, who’s gonna complain about that these days, I mean 2020 doesn’t offer up many smiles, but I’ll take this one you know, so I had no idea it was coming so I was elated to have it,” Rajski said.
Some teachers tell KELOLAND News while they welcome the extra money, they feel it’s something the state legislature should have already taken care of. They again point to the fact that South Dakota teachers are among the lowest paid in the country. In the meantime, Mickelson says the bonuses aren’t the only financial help they are giving teachers, they are also getting a one month holiday from their health insurance premiums and an overall 0.75 percent permanent raise.
Substitute teachers do not qualify for the bonuses, but other staff members will get a one-time bonus of $400 each.