ANWSD to hand out $1K bonuses

VERGENNES — Almost all Addison Northwest School District employees who have been working at least 30 hours a week will be receiving $1,000 bonuses.

The ANWSD board voted on Jan. 19 to pay out those bonuses to about 190 teachers, paraeducators, administrators, and office and maintenance workers, with an eye on rewarding them for their work during the challenges of the pandemic and encouraging them to stay on board.

Board Chair John Stroup explained:

“We recognize that the cost of living has risen at a rapid rate. We want to encourage the district to retain its employees throughout the academic year,” Stroup told the Independent. “We know that people have been doing things above and beyond their job descriptions and will continue to do so during the pandemic to continue to meet the needs of all of our students.”

The bonuses and the required matching withholding funds will cost ANWSD $210,827. The board did not specify exactly how that would be paid for.

But district officials said earlier in the meeting, before the board made the decision in an executive session, that the district was on track to realize a surplus at the end of the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The motion states that “line items” in the current budget would be tapped.

“We expect another surplus in the FY22 general operating budget, and we expect it because again COVID has interrupted our normal practices,” Stroup said.

The motion approved by the board calls the payments “a one-time pandemic related retention stipend,” and specifies they will go to all employees who have worked for ANWSD for at least 90 days at a rate of 30 hours a week “and have not tendered a resignation that takes place before the close of the school year.”

At a meeting at which the board also adopted a 2022-2023 budget and proposal to voters to apply $1.5 million of the current surplus to building repairs and upgrades at Vergennes Union elementary and high schools, the board also:

• Learned of the impending resignation of Director of Facilities Ken Sullivan and thanked him for his service.

• Heard from Superintendent Sheila Soule that the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to be an issue, with 16 cases reported in the district that Wednesday. Soule said the district appears to have an adequate supply of rapid antigen tests to hand out to students and families.

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