MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 12, 2012

School employees to get $200

Board OKs Christmas bonus for 790 workers

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— All 790 Muskogee Public Schools employees will get at least a $200 Christmas bonus this year.

The Muskogee Board of Education approved the bonuses without open discussion or dissent Tuesday at its regular meeting.

MPS Superintendent Mike Garde said the bonuses are long overdue, because staff members are one step behind on their yearly salary scale. The district also is due a sizable midterm adjustment in funding from the state, he said.

“We wanted to show the teachers — all our employees — we appreciate their dedication and commitment,” Garde said.

MPS Chief Financial Officer John Little said the bonuses will go to certified employees including teachers, counselors and administrators and support employees including bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers and department managers.

The bonus will be $200 plus 25 percent for taxes, Social Security, retirement and other deductions, Little said. Money going to the bonuses will total $197,000, he said.

Little said he expects MPS to get $250,000 more from the state in its midterm adjustment at the end of the semester. The state originally allocated MPS $16,866,242, down 3 percent from its final 2012 allocation of $17.4 million. Little said MPS should get more midterm money because enrollment has increased.

He said a lot of variables could enter into the actual midterm adjustment, but historically, it’s pretty close to projections, Little said.

The district’s budget also is in good shape for the rest of the year, with about $2 million carry-over expected at the end of the school year, Little said.

Garde said certified employees did not get a salary step increase a few years ago. As a result, they are one pay step behind where they should be.

“The priority now is to get teachers and support employees a little extra for their hard work,” Garde said.

Muskogee Education Association president Mike Walcutt said he welcomes the money.

“It’s been a rough year for us, with the changes in the Common Core Curriculum,” Walcutt said. “We also have class size increasing. It feels good to be appreciated.”

Mark Walters, president of the Muskogee Education Support Personnel Association, said he’s “grateful the board is considering the bonuses.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.