ROCK SPRINGS– At Thursday night’s meeting, the Sweetwater County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees approved a one-time retention incentive for eligible employees of the District.
Staff salaries were frozen for the 16-17, 17-18, and 18-19 school years. In spite of this, the District saw another opportunity to thank our employees for their continued support of the District’s students and their choice to remain in Sweetwater County School District #1.
Below are questions and answers surrounding the one-time retention incentive.
How can the District fund this one-time retention incentive? Why is the one-time incentive happening now?
The one-time retention incentive is funded from a combination of unfilled budgeted positions, staff turnover (time between resigning staff and filling the vacancy), and budgeted contingency funds (sick leave payout and worker’s compensation) during the 2018-2019 year. The one-time retention incentive money could be utilized in other areas.
However, the District anticipates hitting the cash carryover target leading into the 2019-2020 budget year and transferring needed funds to the health insurance fund and capital projects fund. The capital projects fund, established a few years ago, has assisted the District through difficult times in the areas of technology refreshes, custodial equipment, network upgrades, furniture, fixtures, and equipment, etc.
At this time, the District is able to extend a thank you to our employees that have stepped up and supported one another when open positions could not be filled. The District received funds from the County Treasurer on May 23, 2019. Once the funds arrived, the District had solid numbers, instead of estimates, to proceed forward.
What is the total cost of the one-time retention incentive?
$1,187,784 in total for all funds of the District. A breakdown includes: General Fund, Title 1 School Improvement Grant, Head Start, Nutrition Services ($1,129,429); Federal and other Grant Funds ($58,355).
How many positions are impacted by the one-time retention incentive?
Approximately 805 employees (certified and classified). The total number of years of service in the District is 7,459 with an average of 9.27 years of service.
Who is eligible for the one-time retention incentive?
To be eligible for this one-time retention incentive, employees must be either full-time or part-time as of August 19, 2019 and have completed an online classified letter of assurance indicating their intent to return for the 2019-2020 school year by May 24, 2019 at 4 pm; or have received a certified contract for the 2019-2020 school year. Substitutes and temporary employees are not eligible for this one-time retention incentive.
How will the bonus be calculated? When will the one-time retention incentive be paid to an eligible employee?
The one-time payment will come in the form of a payroll run on June 7, 2019. For all eligible employees, the gross amount will be based on $1,000 plus $40 for each year of service as noted by an employee’s most recent hire date for their permanent position.
The one-time retention incentive will be subject to required payroll taxes and Federal income tax withholding. As an example, an employee with 10 years of service to the District would receive a gross amount of $1,400 ($1000 + $400), resulting in a net amount of $942.90.
Why not give an experience step for one of the frozen year’s to those employees affected by the budget freezes instead of the one-time retention incentive?
The District continues to project the overall budget over the next three years. However, at this time, the District is unable to sustain the cost of restoring frozen years with the future of school funding uncertain and a projected deficit in the 2021-2022 budget year.
What is the fiscal vision moving forward?
The fiscal vision continues to be financially responsible and conservative to plan, prepare, and sustain the District’s future. We know that to positively impact our students, they need a great staff surrounding them. Thank you for your dedication to students and remaining with Sweetwater #1.