Federal grant may fund bonus for school workers

Federal grant may fund bonus for school workers

December 4th, 2010 by Kelli Gauthier in News

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.