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Superior School District serves up holiday retention bonus

The bonuses are funded with new, more flexible coronavirus relief funding.

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Business teacher Christa Kalin, center, helps students Simon Stewart, left, and Robert Powell in class at Superior High School Tuesday morning, Dec. 14, 2021. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Teachers and staff in the Superior School District will receive a retention bonus during the holiday break.

The Superior School Board approved the bonuses — roughly $900 per person for staff who work 30 hours a week or more and $450 for staff who work less than 30 hours per week — at its Monday, Dec. 13 meeting. The bonus will be distributed with their Dec. 24 paychecks.

“This is geared toward retention and trying to retain staff through the rest of the year, so if they do choose to leave the district prior to June 7, they will be required to pay it back,” Shannon Grindell, director of business services for the district, told the board.

The bonuses were funded by the latest round of federal coronavirus relief dollars, a $110 million infusion to schools statewide that was announced by Gov. Tony Evers earlier in the month. Each district was awarded additional aid of $133 per student based on its three-year rolling average. Superior received $587,825 and directed it to the bonuses.

RELATED: Gov. Evers announces $110M in additional funding for schools

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“I think it is important people understand the greatest challenge facing our school is the shortage in workforce,” said District Administrator Amy Starzecki. “This is an attempt to address this issue, as well as recognize the hard work of our staff this year.”

The district has more flexibility with this funding than it does with other coronavirus relief dollars, according to a letter Starzecki sent to staff Tuesday, Dec. 14. Grindell told the board at its Dec. 6 committee of the whole meeting that the funds were not included in the budget because the district didn’t know how much would be awarded.

Officials are currently waiting on access to a much larger pot of COVID-19 relief funding, $6.5 million, that was awarded with the third round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) grants. Grindell discussed the issue Dec. 6.

‘We do not have access to them. Literally every day we are looking to see if they’ve given us access to those funds,” Grindell said. “Just to drive home the importance of not having that money, we’ve filled a lot of those positions. You know, we’ve done the BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risk) program , we’ve hired social workers at the middle school. So we are spending that money and not having the ability to go and claim that and get it back.”

The fact that this is a one-time allocation brings up the issue of sustainability.

“Funding those important positions like the social worker, those needs will still be here when that money’s gone in 2024, so we’ll have to figure out how to sustain that,” Starzecki said.

In other business, the board approved:

  • The academic calendar for the 2022-2023 school year.
  • A new student suicide prevention, intervention and postvention policy.
  • New courses at Superior High School.

PREVIOUSLY: Superior Schools to change approach to student mental health

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Superior High School business teacher Christa Kalin, left, helps out Sean Hughes in class at SHS Tuesday morning, Dec. 14, 2021. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

121721.n.st.Teacher2.jpg
Superior High School business teacher Christa Kalin, left, helps out Sean Hughes in class at SHS Tuesday morning, Dec. 14, 2021. Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

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