The Loudoun County Public Schools system is doling out more than $1.6 million to pay for one-time bonuses to thank staff for their hard work during the pandemic, but teachers won’t be seeing a dime of it.
In neighboring Prince William County, the school board will vote Wednesday on a possible $1,600 bonus for teachers. In Fauquier County, teachers got a $1,000 bonus. Staff in Fairfax County got a 2% pay raise.
Teachers in Loudoun County, on the other hand, were given the kind of coin they can't take to the bank -- challenge coins, a commemorative item.
These coins were given as a thank you to teachers for their hard work on the front lines during the pandemic. The superintendent, Dr. Scott A. Ziegler, also sent a heartfelt letter to his staff.
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"Dr. Ziegler did not put those letters and those coins together to tick anybody off, I guarantee it,” Sandy Sullivan, the president of the Loudoun Education Association, said. She said teachers know the superintendent meant well, but the gesture is being received differently.
“It's just the timing was off,” Sullivan said.
"The Loudoun Education Association believes employees at all levels and classifications contributed to progress made during these unprecedented times. All employees should receive bonuses due to their extraordinary work this school year," the association said in a statement to News4. "This reward would recognize the efforts and sacrifices of ALL employees who worked through hazardous conditions during the pandemic."
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Meanwhile, the school board has approved $1.6 million in bonuses to be split up among administrators and nurses who worked on vaccination efforts, school principals and other administrators, as well as nearly $12,000 each for 9 cabinet members.
“When you look around and see who didn't get any form of financial recognition, then you go, 'Oh, it's me a third grade teacher,'” Sullivan said.
Some Loudoun teachers who did not want to speak on camera told News4’s Drew Wilder that while the coin was a nice gesture, watching administrators get thousands of dollars in bonus money felt like a slap in the face.
One Loudoun County School Board member said the board approved $500 per quarter stipends to compensate educators who work directly with students unable to maintain distance and/or wear a mask. Those educators should contact their building administrators to qualify.