SWEETWATER COUNTY — At the May 26 meeting of the Sweetwater County School District #1 Board of Trustees approved a one-time bonus for eligible employees of the District.
The following is the full text of a letter sent out to district employees by Superintendent Kelly McGovern:
It has been a District and community-wide effort to address the Legislative cuts. As we all know, salaries were frozen for the 2016-2017 school year and unfortunately, will remain so for the 2017-2018 school year. In spite of this, the District saw an opportunity to thank our employees for their continued support of our students during this difficult fiscal time.
Below are questions and answers surrounding the one-time bonus.
Q. How can the District fund this one-time bonus?
A. The opportunity came in three areas: a data correction to the funding model ($406,999.02); paraprofessional positions reassigned and absorbed ($175,069.45); and funds remaining from the Sick Leave Incentive payout for certified staff ($49,000).
Q. What is the total cost of the one-time bonus?
A. $693,105.47 in total for the general fund and grant funds.
Q. How many positions are impacted by the one-time bonus?
A. 990 employees (certified and classified)
Q. Why is the one-time bonus happening now?
A. The District received the monies from a data correction to accurately reflect the years of experience for staff as reported to the Wyoming Department of Education. This unanticipated allotment provided the opportunity for the one-time bonus. The total guarantee initially came in during March and was finalized in early May. The District also received funds from the County Treasurer on May 23, 2017. Once the funds arrived, the District had solid numbers, instead of estimates, to proceed forward.
Q. Could the District save this money and use it for cash reserves during the 2017-2018 school year? Can the money be used in other places? Or must it be used for employees?
A. The one-time employee bonus money could be utilized in other areas. However, the District anticipates hitting the cash carryover target leading into the 2017-2018 budget year and transferring funds to the capital projects fund. This fund, established a few years ago, has assisted the District through these difficult times in the area of technology refreshes, custodial equipment, network upgrades, furniture, fixtures, and equipment, etc. Due to the costs savings efforts of this year, the District is in a good place to prepare as much as we can for the next Legislative decision while at the same time extend a thank you to our employees that have worked alongside us with frozen salaries and insurance changes.
Q. Who is eligible for the one-time bonus?
A. To be eligible for this one-time payment, employees must be either full-time or part-time as of May 26, 2017, and have completed their first day of employment before January 1, 2017. Substitutes are not eligible for this one-time bonus.
Q. How will the bonus be calculated?
A. For salaried employees, the amount will be based on the experience step of the applicable salary schedule of their primary job. For hourly employees, the amount will be based on the experience step of the applicable salary schedule of their primary job and their scheduled work hours of their primary job for the school year. Bonuses will be subject to required payroll taxes and Federal income tax withholding. For example, a certified teacher: experience step increment ($790) – FICA ($48.98) – FICM ($11.46) – Federal ($197.50) = Net check ($532.06). As another example, a classified employee: experience step increment ($0.35) * 261 days for full-time 12 month * 8 hrs/day – FICA ($45.31) – FICM ($10.60) – Federal ($182.70) = Net check ($492.19). And lastly, for an administrator: experience step increment ($1,325) – FICA ($82.15) – FICM ($19.21) – Federal ($331.25) = Net check ($892.39).Q.
Q. When will the one-time bonus be paid to an eligible employee?
A. The one-time payment will come in the form of a payroll run on June 6, 2017 made by direct deposit or paper check, whichever is currently on file with Payroll.
Q. Why not give experience steps for a year of service and honor raises on the salary schedules instead of the one-time bonus?
A. The future of school funding is uncertain with recalibration efforts in the near future. By granting experience steps on the salary schedules, the District may not be able to sustain the cost over future years. District Policy DA – Fiscal Management Goals notes theDistrict is not allowed to use unpredictable revenue sources for reoccurring expenditures (i.e. salaries, benefits, etc.).
Q. What is the fiscal vision moving forward?
A. The fiscal vision is to be financially responsible and conservative to plan and prepare for future Legislative cuts. Education impacts Wyoming’s most important resource, our students. We have ONE OPPORTUNITY to provide a quality education and prepare our students to be productive citizens. A reduction in financial resources severely affects our ability to deliver a quality education.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of us for any questions or support. We want everyone to end the school year ready to relax for summer and enjoy a much-deserved break.