Roaring Fork district teachers to receive bonuses | PostIndependent.com

Roaring Fork district teachers to receive bonuses

Music teacher Emma Leake teachers her first-grade students a new song at Glenwood Springs Elementary School on Thursday afternoon.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The Roaring Fork School District Board of Education unanimously approved one-time bonuses for full-time teachers and staff Wednesday, making use of one-time state funding intended to assist rural schools.

Full-time teachers who started before September can expect a $1,200 end-of-year bonus, designed to provide financial relief for teachers and staff, and to attract and retain quality talent.

“We realize that this bonus will not do nearly enough to remedy the low wages for Colorado teachers,” Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein said in a statement. “But we hope that it will serve both as a gesture of appreciation and a step toward addressing pay inequities in education.”

RFSD received a total of $919,551 as part of Colorado’s $30 million Supplemental Assistance for Rural Schools fund, some of which will go to the district’s charter school, Carbondale Charter School.

Area schools under the Colorado Charter School Institute — Ross Montessori School in Carbondale and Two Rivers Community School in Glenwood Springs — received a combined total of around $94,800. It’s unclear how the charter schools will use the supplemental funds.

The Supplemental Assistance for Rural Schools funds can be used for only one-time expenses, so salary increases were not possible. Roaring Fork Schools’ Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) group recommended the bonuses as the best option to help teachers and staff.

“Because these are one-time funds, they cannot be used for recurring expenses, such as salaries,” Stein said. “Given the limitations of these funds, the IBB group was very intentional in examining the district’s greatest needs, and retaining effective teachers and other staff and providing financial relief for staff were identified as top priorities.”

Staff members and teachers who started work full-time after Sept. 1 will receive prorated bonuses equaling $100 for each month they’ve worked in the district. Part-time employees will receive a prorated bonus, while seasonal and occasional employees like substitute teachers and athletic coaches are not eligible for the bonuses.

“While we are aware that a bonus doesn’t fix the problem, it does help,” Rhonda Tatham, a teacher at Carbondale Middle School and IBB member said. “The IBB team is continuing to find solutions to increase salaries on a permanent basis.”

The district expects to receive a similar Supplemental Assistance for Rural Schools package for the next school year, but that isn’t guaranteed.

Should additional funding become available, the IBB will consider other uses for those funds, like recruiting for hard-to-fill positions, skills training, staff wellness programs, or distributing funds to schools or specific programs.

tphippen@postindependent.com