Anne Arundel County will provide public school system staff with $1,000 bonuses.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mark Bedell, with the full backing of the County Board of Education, announced that permanent AACPS employees of the school system will receive a $1,000 Employee Appreciation Bonus in January 2023.
The bonus, which will be pro-rated based on an employee’s full-time equivalency, will be delivered to all permanent employees except those on a Leave of Absence by December 16, 2022.
The surprise bonus will be paid from savings “accrued through vacancies across the school system” and, importantly, will not require AACPS to ask for any additional funding.
Additionally, Dr. Bedell also informed AACPS employees that he will implement a “healthcare premium holiday” to be reflected on December 28, 2022. During the holiday, no healthcare premiums will be deducted from that day’s pay. The holiday is in response to the level of the school system’s health care fund balance.
In a letter announcing the bonuses and premium holiday, Dr. Beddel wrote:
No school system can be great without great people. As I have said before, the work you are doing in the face of some stiff challenges is incredible. No matter your role in our school system, our students benefit every day from your dedication and passion. Please don’t ever forget that.
Move comes as schools struggle to hire and retain staff
Teachers are leaving the profession at a concerning rate around the country, and hiring new public education staff remains a major challenge. Congress and the federal government have even taken interest in the problem.
Every school district in Maryland has struggled to hire and retain public school staff in recent years, and, throughout the state, districts have tested and implemented a combination of strategies to combat the issue. Several have attempted to address the state’s teacher shortage via financial incentives like retention and hiring bonuses, while others have increased minimum pay for school support staff. Others have adjusted school calendars to incorporate more administrative days off and teacher wellness bonus days. In fact, just in September, Baltimore County did a combination of financial incentives.
The challenge of school staffing was also a topic of concern during the 2022 legislative session, during which several initiatives to boost hiring and retention of school staff were considered and one bill was passed to provide support staff with $500 bonuses in fiscal years 2023 and 2024 and to study the issue of staffing shortages and pay.