JANESVILLE

The Janesville School District will give eligible teachers recognition bonuses and additional sick time days paid out of funds saved from unfilled positions.

During its Tuesday, May 10 meeting, the Janesville School Board unanimously approved a plan recommended by administration. It will give teachers and other eligible staff a one-time payment of $600 and add three days to their sick-time bank, after the district saved nearly $927,000 in wages and benefits during the 2021-22 school year.

The district saved that over periods of time when staff members resigned and administration had yet to fill their role with a replacement. The district also saved money through a reduction in the number of substitute positions filled that money had been allocated for in the 2021-22 year, according to a memo to the board included in the May 10 agenda.

District chief financial officer Dan McCrea said while the district allocated about $1 million in substitute pay alone for the 2021-22 year, it didn’t come close to crossing that threshold.

In April, the board directed district administration to look into ways to recognize its current staff members for the work they put in over two years of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At prior meetings, at least one teacher had advocated during the public comment period of the meeting for teachers to receive federally funded bonuses out of the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER) funds allocated to the district. A petition started by the Janesville Education Association, seeking that use of ESSER funds, had received 598 signatures by early March.

None of the money now being allocated for bonuses is from the district’s ESSER allocation.

Janesville Education Association president Laura Mattison said she was pleased to see a proposal for one-time bonus and additional sick days brought forward, saying it showed the school board was listening to the staff and the Janesville community who wanted to see staff recognized for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’d also like to thank the board members who read many pieces of information that I sent to you, and all the literature and personal stories—for example, hundreds of the ways in which we have adapted and overcome the many hurdles,” she said.

Those eligible for the one-time bonuses and the additional sick leave include current full-time staff who worked during the 2021-22 school year, not including substitutes, limited-term employees or seasonal positions. The sick bank can be used for family and medical leave or the purchase of additional health insurance in retirement.

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