The Public School System is working on identifying extra funding to provide incentive checks for support staff who were not included under the Project Restart grant.
According to PSS acting director of Finance Kimo Rosario, PSS will immediately pay its support staff as soon as PSS identifies funding. However, PSS is prioritizing the retirement of this fiscal year’s deficit before tackling the incentive for support staff.
“That matter is still on the table; it’s just a matter of identifying funds. The priority right now is to retire the deficit and make sure we have enough money to augment the next fiscal year budget. It would make no sense for us to give out an incentive award, only to subject employees to furloughs, pay cuts, or worse, layoffs, because we don’t have the money to pay them,” he said.
Tim Thornburgh, PSS Federal Programs manager, said Project Restart took care of all teachers, instructors, teacher aides, as well as principals and vice principals, with each one receiving over $2,000.
Board of Education member Andrew Orsini said PSS needs to find the funding to provide other support staff with an incentive because it is only fair. “I stand in fairness for all our staff, no exception to the rule. I think we need to do something because there are funding now available and I think we really need to look closely and provide an incentive for all support staff like what was given to all the teachers and instructional people,” he said.
Orsini added that, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, PSS staff who were not covered by Project Restart need this kind of incentive more than ever. “If there is funding, we can work to provide this to our deserving people. Even though at this point in time we’re going through this pandemic, it doesn’t mean we’re going to leave out our support staff,” he said.
BOE vice chair Herman Atalig echoed Orsini’s sentiment, adding that all PSS staff must be treated similarly, so if teachers received an incentive, so should all other personnel. “I want to echo the same sentiment. I think it’s just fair to treat everyone the same and the lowest-paid people are suffering more than anyone else,” he said.