School Board approves “retention bonus” for employees

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The Mariposa County Unified School District (MCUSD)  board recently approved two Memorandum of Understandings (MOU’s) for both certificated (MCTA) and classified (CSEA) staff of MCUSD. Each MOU reads in part, “as it relates to COVID-19 working conditions, staff members who provided contracted services between August 16, 2021 and June 30, 2022, a $3,500 retention bonus payment would be issued. This agreement is meant to resolve existing negotiable effects from changed working conditions.”

The one-time “retention bonus” for all certificated and classified staff will have a price tag of just over $1.2 million and will be covered through the use of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) Funds.

The following is a brief Question & Answer interview with MCUSD Superintendent Jeff Aranguena.

Statement by Superintendent Aranguena when asked to provide information regarding how and why the “retention bonus” came about for MCUSD classified and certificated employees: “The pandemic has placed an unprecedented burden on all partners within our school community. The combination of unfunded mandates and the inability of school districts across the state to recruit and retain staff during this time created a tremendous combination of difficulties that school staff, students, parents, and communities have never dealt with before.  Our dedicated school board members took steps forward to honor the hard work and sacrifice of our employees by approving the negotiated MOU’s during our April board meetings (April 14 & 28).  These MOU’s are a combination of saying thank you as well as making efforts to retain the wonderful staff we have here in Mariposa.”

Superintendent Aranguena went on to provide additional information as it relates to the MCTA MOU, “The MCTA MOU is specific to AB 130.  AB 130 was passed at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, and schools are required to offer an independent study option to be made available to students whose health would be put at risk by in-person instruction, as determined by their parent or guardian.  AB 130 was labeled a “unfunded mandate” as the state required districts to operate programs above and beyond the normal workday.”

When asked to clarify if the stipends were for dues paying bargaining union members only or for all certificated and classified staff, Superintendent Aranguena stated, “MCTA and CSEA negotiates on behalf of all certificated and classified staff members, and therefore the negotiated MOU’s apply to all certificated and classified staff.” Aranguena went on to clarify that the $3,500 “retention bonus” is a flat rate negotiated with MCTA and CSEA that applies to all certificated and classified employees regardless of part-time or full-time employment status.

Finally, we offered Superintendent Aranguena an opportunity to provide any final thoughts regarding the effects of the pandemic on staff: “What we have noticed in the last two years is the incredible amount of time and energy beyond the regular workday that all of our staff have put into transforming everything that we are used to doing because of the pandemic.  The spirit of these MOU’s is that we want to recognize the efforts made by our dedicated staff to ensure they received compensation for the unfunded mandates (AB 130) and burdens placed upon them. 

Additionally, our board members and leadership team are fully aware that if our staff members did not go above and beyond during this pandemic, our students could have been impacted even more than they already were.  It is no secret that education is in a difficult spot right now in California when it comes to recruitment and retainment of employees.  Therefore, this is one small step in the right direction to say thank you and honor our employees’ efforts.  Our board members and leadership team are extremely thankful for our dedicated staff who have shown up to serve our students in the most difficult of times.”

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