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Pinellas Schools To Give Non-Teaching Employees $1,000 COVID-19 Bonus

Stock photo of a librarian replacing books on shelves
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Non-teacher workers, including librarians, guidance counselors, bus drivers, classroom aides, and custodians, will receive a $1,000 COVID-19 bonus from Pinellas County Schools.

Despite not being included in the state’s plan to reward teachers and principals, full-time support staff at Pinellas County schools will be receiving $1,000 bonuses.

In March, Florida lawmakers issued more than $200 million of federal pandemic emergency relief funds to go towards one-time bonuses of $1,000 for teachers and principals across the state.

The money was intended to reward full-time classroom teachers for keeping schools open during the pandemic.

But non-teacher workers — including assistant principals, guidance counselors, bus drivers, classroom aides, and custodians — would not receive the state’s largesse.

In response, some school districts have moved to include those staff members.

The Pinellas County School Board joined the likes of the Brevard County School Board in approving additional $1,000 bonuses for all full-time, non-teaching district employees.

“Everyone chipped in and really worked so hard this past year to make this year such a success through the pandemic, like no other year,” said Michael Grego, superintendent of Pinellas County Schools.

Pinellas officials dedicated $7.3 million of the federal stimulus funds the district received towards the bonuses for about 7,000 non-classroom teachers, support personnel, and other full-time staff.

“We had food lunch room service workers out in 100 degree heat this past summer; bus drivers put themselves out there every day to pick up our students; plan operators and custodians worked day in and day out in the evening hours to make sure our schools were sanitized and clean for the next day,” Grego said.

“I mean, these stories go on and on and on about the extra above and beyond that all employees performed.”

An agreement between bargaining units for the different employees, administration representatives, and school board officials was signed on June 7.

To qualify, employees will have to have worked in the district since Dec. 19 and remain through April 30.

Grego expects the bonuses to be distributed by the middle of July.

“One of the things I've learned about Pinellas County is that wherever there’s a need, the folks come together and fill that need, and this past year has been no different,” Grego said. “So this is a joy to be able to provide these resources to our employees.”

Union leaders in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Sarasota counties have also approached their districts with similar ideas, but have not yet arrived at a deal.

Each of those counties is currently working on how they will spend the federal money they received.

Jacob Wentz is the inaugural WUSF Rush Family Radio News intern for the summer of 2021.