VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — In Virginia Beach, this week is all about giving and school leaders are making sure their employees feel the love.
On Tuesday night, Virginia Beach school officials announced bonuses and incentives that will hit employee paychecks in a few weeks.
The city's school division is pulling together more than $40 million from its operating budget and grants to give employees a little extra money.
All eligible staff members will get a $1,000 bonus on Dec. 15. Division leaders are motivated by the need for recruitment and retention.
“We want to attract the best and the brightest,” said Virginia Beach Education Association President Kathleen Slinde.
The division is down more than 100 teachers, 125 bus drivers, and dozens of custodians and teaching assistants.
Officials said staff people in these positions will also get another $2,500, not in a lump sum, but split over several paychecks, starting Jan. 15. Slinde said the money is helpful.
“We so appreciate all the people in the administration office that worked so hard on this and we know they want to help us out,” Slinde said.
But she noted the bonuses are only temporary.
“On a bonus, you can’t plan for your child’s education, you can’t buy a house, you can’t buy a car. It’s a bonus, it’s a short-term fix,” Slinde said.
The division is also short on substitute teachers and will increase their pay by $30 per day. Slinde said it’s a needed boost.
“The number of people that are qualified to sub, they can sub here, they can sub in Chesapeake, in Norfolk,” Slinde said. “So, we need to make sure that ours is competitive, so when we have a position up, they are more likely to take ours.”
Slinde said the incentives are a step in the right direction, but she hopes state leaders can work with school divisions to increase teacher pay across Virginia.
“We have to bring the salary and the benefits and all of that up to a level that people that want to enter this profession can see that they can grow in it,” Slinde said.
School Board Chair Carolyn Rye said the division is always thinking of ways to show their appreciation.
“It’s a challenge for board members, we want to do right by our teachers," Rye said. "And we have to do right with the resources we have and to the credit of the administration, they are with us on this.”
Division leaders also announced that Dec. 22 will become a full holiday for students and staff.