MASSILLON, Ohio (WJW) — Some local teachers are speaking out against their school board for approving federal COVID-19 relief funds to give bonuses to dozens of administrators.
Members of the Massillon Education Association say the money should have been used directly to help students overcome obstacles created by the pandemic.
“The vote shows us one thing, and that’s that our Board of Education and superintendent have valued themselves above any student, staff member, parent or teacher in the district,” said spokesperson Alyssa Plakas.
Wednesday night, Massillon school board members unanimously approved giving about $140,000 in bonus pay to 31 administrators. The money comes from a more than $5.6 million dollar allocation of federal COVID relief funds for schools.
“They have emergency relief funds that are supposed to be used to bridge the learning gaps that have developed because of the pandemic, but instead, they’ve decided to pay themselves — who are already the highest-paid employees in the district,” said Plakas.
In a statement, Superintendent Paul Salvino says the district has and will continue to allocate millions of dollars to the district for items such as 4,200 new Chromebooks, increased wages for teachers for after school and summer programming, district-wide classroom technology and software upgrades, and cleaning/sanitizing products and other PPE to combat the current pandemic, among other things.
“We have so many more needs that maybe they are planning down the road, but using $140,000 today is not the purpose of the federal funding. There has not been additional staff to help teachers, there’s been no additional training on how to deal with the mental health issues,” said Plakas.
Superintendent Salvino says it’s not unusual for administrators to work longer than scheduled, but says the ten days of extra pay extends back to March 2020.
He added, “The Pandemic and our need to address the reopening of the ‘20-‘21 school year as well as maintaining an All-In 5 days a week learning model throughout the school year posed an even more extensive amount of time for these tasks.”
“My hope would be that they would give that money back and earmark it for our students,” said Plakas.
The superintendent says the preparation and planning allowed Massillon schools to remain open for the entire school year.
Meanwhile, in a letter to the superintendent, the teacher’s union said it is not downplaying the work the administration team has done but says all employees have been burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic.