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Clark County School District educators respond to retention bonuses during COVID-19

A bulletin board at an elementary school to the right of tables and chairs for small children.
Alexa Ard
KUNR Public Radio

As educators across the state deal with rising COVID-19 cases among students and peers, the Clark County School District has implemented a retention bonus to help incentivize K-12 teachers to continue working during the pandemic; however, some educators say the bonus is not enough.

Kenneth Belknap, a social studies teacher at Liberty High School, has a message for district officials: “Your educators are really at a breaking point,” he said.

Despite the bonus helping in the short term, he said more needs to be done to ensure the safety of students and staff.

“I don’t think, necessarily, it’s money that’s going to make the biggest difference," Belknap said, "I think we need to put safeguards in place, especially while omicron is surging through our community.”

The district’s Board of Trustees voted to give educators $2,000 in bonuses as a way to thank employees and mitigate the economic impact the pandemic has had on educators.

Belknap said most of his bonus will go to purchasing teaching supplies and disinfecting materials in order to help keep his over 200 students safe.

Jim Frazee, a social studies teacher and vice president of the CCSD teacher’s union, appreciated the bonus. He said it is the least the district can do so more teachers don’t leave.

“We can’t replace them. We have to give them a reason to feel appreciated. Give them a reason to stay," Frazee said.

Frazee added the district needs to sit down with teachers to discuss their working conditions and allow them to reteach material that was not retained by students in the midst of distance learning.

There has been$80 million allocatedfrom the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds to cover bonuses, according to CCSD.

The district serves over 300,000 students and is the fifth largest district in the nation.

Andrew Méndez is a former bilingual student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.