Employees with the Pullman School District will receive a discretionary bonus of as much as $2,000 for their efforts during the pandemic, district officials said Friday.

PSD Finance Director Diane Hodge stressed the word “bonus” can be misleading as the sum is meant to compensate teachers and staff for performing a raft of additional duties related to COVID-19.

She said as more schools in the district prepare to reopen or expand offerings to five days of in-person instruction a week, teachers are having to reorganize classrooms for social distancing, prepare lesson plans both for in-person and online students and often spend some of their spare time creating “asynchronous” recorded lessons.

Hodge said the word stipend is more appropriate as it’s really more of an acknowledgement that teachers and support staff plates are substantially more full than they would be in a normal year.

“I use the term ‘discretionary bonus,’ because that’s the term used for duties outside of one’s normal job criteria,” Hodge said. “But it’s really paid through a stipend for additional COVID-related job duties and responsibilities.”

Hodge said those who work full-time with the district would receive a stipend of $2,000, while others would receive a sum proportional to hours worked. For example, someone who works half the amount of hours considered full-time by Washinton’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction would receive half of the maximum allotment — or about $1,000.

Hodge estimated stipends would cost the district around $725,000 which will be covered through a combination of institutional reserves and savings realized through operating schools in a limited capacity. She said because of the pandemic, the district saved money on costs associated with items like transportation and facilities use and also spent less of its reserves than it would in a normal year.

There are contracts that we have not had to pay this year because school has not been in session full-time and ... we’ve got reserves and designated money that we haven’t had to spend due to the pandemic,” Hodge said. “So we’re trying to send that money where it’s most deserved, because of all the additional work that’s going into this.”

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