Gwinnett school staff to get December bonuses, Juneteenth holiday

The J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center in Suwanee, Georgia, on Wednesday, July 28, 2021. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
The J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center in Suwanee, Georgia, on Wednesday, July 28, 2021. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Rebecca Wright

Credit: Rebecca Wright

The Gwinnett County Board of Education recently approved December bonuses of $1,000 to all active school district employees eligible for benefits and a paid Juneteenth holiday next year for all staff.

The bonus will be paid in a lump sum in the December monthly paycheck for about 21,500 employees, including teachers, administrators and support personnel, according to a news release from Gwinnett County Public Schools.

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The one-time bonuses’ $21.5 million cost will not tie up future budgets or decrease the year-end fund balance, according to the news release.

Superintendent Calvin Watts recommended the bonuses to the school board, which approved them unanimously.

“For the third school year, our employees have done a remarkable job of addressing the needs of students during the pandemic,” Watts said in the news release.

He also asked for an evaluation of the school district’s salary schedules.

“Gwinnett County Public Schools cares for its staff members and is committed to remaining an employer of choice that can continue to recruit and retain the highest quality of employees,” he said.

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Board member Steven Knudsen praised Watts for recommending the bonuses.

“This is a great thing to do at this time, after 18 months of the pandemic, inflationary concerns, all the things that come into it,” Knudsen said at the board meeting.

Chairman Everton Blair said he believes this is the sixth raise or bonus the Gwinnett school district has given in his three years on the board. The district last holiday season gave one-time payments of $700 to full-time employees.

“I just really appreciate the opportunity to be able to recognize the hard work that, not just our teachers, but all of our full-time staff members have been doing,” he said. “You’ll always have a yes vote from me when it comes to paying people who are working hard and making us really meet the needs of our students.”

Atlanta Public Schools is also considering $1,000 stipends next month for all its 6,000 workers, including part-time employees.

A few other metro Atlanta school districts, including APS, Clayton and Fulton County Schools, have made Juneteenth a paid holiday starting next year for employees.