SACS board signs off on one-time stipends
19 May 2021 — Journal Gazette
Ashley Sloboda

Southwest Allen County Schools put a price Tuesday on the extra work school employees performed this academic year.

The school board unanimously approved one-time stipends of 500 and 1,000 for part-time and full-time employees, respectively.

The five members also agreed the superintendent or designee has the discretion to increase any employee's stipend in recognition of an unusual increase in that employee's work time and responsibilities due to the pandemic. The total amount of additional stipends may not exceed $25,000.

The district has been without a superintendent since Phil Downs' retirement May 5. Lynn Simmers, assistant superintendent, has leadership responsibilities in the interim.

"I think it's incredible the work our staff did to really provide options to our parents," board member Tom Rhoades said. "Kudos to our team."

To be eligible for the stipend, workers must have been employed Jan. 4 and must be employed May 25 : the last day of school.

Board member Mark Gilpin was concerned the stipends won't benefit employees who lost their jobs because they weren't needed this year, but Simmers assured him nobody fit that description.

"We creatively sought ways to ensure that our employees still had work in the district throughout the '20-21 school year," Simmers said.

The stipends will be funded with federal coronavirus relief dollars.

Although no amount of money can adequately compensate educators for the extra work the year required, teachers appreciate the gesture and are "glad to see this come to fruition," Ryan Henly said after the meeting. He is president of the Southwest Allen County Teachers Association.

When asked for an example of above-and-beyond work, Henly credited the middle and high school teachers who simultaneously taught in-person and remote students.

Leaders in Allen County's other districts recently approved similar payment for their employees. Stipends are 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 in Fort Wayne Community Schools; 500 and 750 in Northwest Allen County Schools; and 500 and $1,000 in East Allen County Schools.

In other business, the school board allowed Amanda Tokos of SACS Patriot Parents to give a presentation about mask choice. Public comment followed and was limited to six speakers, who expressed views on both sides. The board did not discuss or act on the topic.

This story is provided free courtesy of The Fort Wayne Newspapers.
"SACS board signs off on one-time stipends" Journal Gazette 19 May 2021: C1