published Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Federal grant may fund bonus for school workers


by Kelli Gauthier

Hamilton County Schools employees may get a little something extra in their Christmas stockings this year.

If a proposal by Superintendent Jim Scales and Chief Financial Officer Tommy Kranz is approved later this month by the Hamilton County Board of Education, certified employees would receive a one-time bonus of $500 and classified employees would get $400. The total cost would be $2.5 million.

"It would be good if we could get it to them by the winter break. It all depends on the decision by our board," Scales said.

Most of the money -- $2.1 million -- would come from a $6.3 million federal jobs assistance package the school system received earlier this year. But since that money only can be used for school-based personnel, Scales said $400,000 would come from various budgets, such as child nutrition and federal programs, to give the bonus to all employees.

Schools spokeswoman Danielle Clark emphasized that the bonuses were not final and were pending board approval.

Hamilton County used $4 million of the total $6.3 million it received to pay for new hires in August. Officials initially planned to save the remaining $2 million for future hires, but now are hoping to use it to provide the bonuses.

Board Chairman Everett Fairchild, who would have to agree to put the item on the agenda later this month, did not return a message seeking comment.

Scales said he could not give employees a raise because the money is one-time and must be spent over the course of two years. It also could not be used to balance the budget or pay for utilities or transportation, Scales said.

Contact Kelli Gauthier at kgauthier@timesfreepress.com or 423 757-6249. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/gauthierkelli.

about Kelli Gauthier...

Kelli Gauthier covers K-12 education in Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She started at the paper as an intern in 2006, crisscrossing the region writing feature stories from Pikeville, Tenn., to Lafayette, Ga. She also covered crime and courts before taking over the education beat in 2007. A native of Frederick, Md., Kelli came south to attend Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism. Before newspapers, ...

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mymy said...

Where is the money coming from to pay for the "new hires in August" next year? I suggest they save the $2 million. How free spending they are with the taxpayers dollars. Another negative against unions. They will take care of their own on our backs. It sure will be interesting to see where Fairchild comes down on this one.

December 4, 2010 at 10:02 a.m.
gator_gal said...

Many of those who work full-time in schools make less than $10,000 per year for their efforts. Yes, it is a choice to work for a public school system rather than a private corporation, but there must be people willing to work in schools to help students reach their potential. A bonus of $400 is about equal to two weeks pay for some people, and it is a huge goodwill gesture from the school system. I think it is great to offer thanks to those who choose to help children learn rather than pursuing a career in another field that would certainly provide greater financial benefit. Kudos to Dr. Scales and the Department of Education for making this move to show appreciation to all of those who work daily to ensure future generations are prepared to enter a productive adulthood.

December 15, 2010 at 10:30 p.m.
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