Fresno Unified staff to possibly receive bonuses for work during pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Unified and the Fresno Teachers Association are weighing whether to give teachers and other district employees bonuses for their work during the pandemic.

"They had to turn what they would typically do in the physical setting and try to translate that all into a digital setting to try to meet the needs of 74,000 students via computer during a pandemic, when they're trying to also manage a pandemic in their own family right, with their own illnesses that they may be facing," says Manuel Bonilla, President of the Fresno Teachers Association.

California's third-largest school district is receiving $720 million in COVID-19 relief funding.

Bonilla is asking for that money to be used for a one-time payment of $3,200 dollars for all school staff, reduced class sizes, and more emotional support for students.

"There is enough money with that $720 million to not only do all of those things to support students in the academic environment, but also to recognize the work that everybody has done over the past 14 months to order in order to meet the needs of their students," Bonilla said.

Board member Terry Slatic had four of his children attending schools in the district.

"Do I think that teachers are amazing and valuable? Absolutely," Slatic said. "Is giving them several thousand dollars of free money more important than assessing learning loss and attempting to correct it? Not in a million years."

A new poll shows more than 86 percent of Californians say children are falling behind academically during the pandemic.

Respondents also believed students in lower-income areas and English-language learners were the most at risk.

"There were some that tried to reach out to students that did a great job doing it, but the vast majority, there was no mechanism for them to get in contact with students," Slatic said.

For now, those conversations will continue in closed session at the school board meeting Wednesday.

On Wednesday, a Fresno Unified spokesperson released the following statement:

"The district looks forward to sharing more about our Pandemic Recovery Plan with our community, but some elements are still being finalized with our labor partners, including the request for $3,200. This request is in addition to supplemental contracts for Monday supports, simultaneous teaching stipends, additional money to the district health fund and an extra pay day for all employees already agreed upon."

Meantime, the Clovis Unified School Board recently granted their full-time employees a one-time payment of $4,000.
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