Christmas will come early for staff at Payson Unified School District.
The school board Monday night approved a one-time $750 stipend for all staff, thanks to unbudgeted federal funds. The bonus should appear on most paychecks Nov. 30, said Superintendent Ron Hitchcock.
Hitchcock had suggested the board give out $1,000 checks, but the board agreed it felt more comfortable with the smaller amount given the tumultuous economy.
While the windfall is welcome news for staffers — most of whom have not seen a significant raise in years — it is even better news for the school board. With money left over after giving a stipend to staff from federal forest fees, the district has several hundred thousand dollars in reserves.
School board president Barbara Underwood hinted that the board could consider giving staff more of that money in the spring if no financial emergencies occur.
However, school board member Matt Van Camp pushed for giving teachers the full $1,000 now, which was also the amount Hitchcock had recommended.
“Our employees deserve it and they deserve it now,” said Van Camp.
“I happen to pick for my recommendation $1,000 for every employee,” Hitchcock said. “Can we afford that? My answer is ‘Yes.’”
However, board member Barbara Shepherd proposed a lesser amount.
“I would love to see the employees get $1,000 … however, I had suggested the $750 or a lower figure than $1,000 because I was hoping we could keep at least half of that safety net as a cushion and $750 would leave us with a little more than half,” she said.
Van Camp said that was crazy.
“We have been dancing around this for four years and ‘Oh let's give them a little bit here’ and ‘Entice them a little bit here.’ Let’s just give it to them all now so they can do what they want and do it now,” he said. “They deserve it and we need to give it to them.”
Van Camp’s $1,000 motion, however, failed for lack of a second.
Shepherd’s motion of $750 passed unanimously, despite Van Camp’s grumblings.
“A bunch of babies,” he said after the vote passed.