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West Fargo schools propose one-time bonus to educators

Full-time teachers, or those working 30 or more hours per week would receive $500 stipends

West Fargo High School
West Fargo School District is proposing a one-time stipend to its full-time, part-time and substitute educators. The West Fargo School Board would have to approve the proposal at its next board meeting, Monday, Sept. 12.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
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WEST FARGO — As a way to show appreciation and an effort to retain current teachers, the West Fargo School District may soon offer a one time stipend of $500 to all full-time teachers, or those working 30 or more hours per week.

The proposal, which is outlined in a memo written by administration staff, suggests the district give "a one-time retention stipend investment of $500 per educator working 30 or more hours per week," along with a $400 stipend for all part-time educators.

Substitute educators involved with the district in both the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school year would also receive a $250 stipend, according to the memo.

The West Fargo School Board would have to approve the proposal at its next board meeting, Monday, Sept. 12, the same meeting where the district will hold a public hearing to finalize it's 2022-2023 budget.

The district will be lowering its general mill levy from 143.16 to 136.17 mills.

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Business Manager Levi Bachmeier has attributed the decrease in mills to the increased property valuations that cities in the district have seen in the past year.

However, under state law, the district can only use funds for staffing from the miscellaneous levy, special reserve levy or the general fund. Those three levies are maxed out by state standards, and the district cannot raise them to increase salaries or teacher retention efforts.

The district will be using part of its ESSER Funds, or federal grant money the district received as part of the COVID-19 pandemic to pay for the bonuses.

The roughly $4 million per year for three years is being used by the district in a variety of ways, such as hiring floating substitutes to help address the substitute teacher shortage, or hiring targeted interventionists working to support students through academic and behavioral challenges.

District staff expect the cost to give teachers bonuses at well over $1 million.

"[District staff] worked incredibly hard to support our learners in a year that was certainly not back to a “new normal” as a lot of us expected at the beginning of last school year," Human Resources Director Brittnee Nikel said. "Every part of our district was impacted, from our teachers picking up additional class periods, our operational staff managing greater demands with fewer people, it really was an entire team effort."

READ MORE FROM WEST FARGO EDITOR WENDY REUER
WEST FARGO — After seeing a dramatic increase in premium costs year after year, West Fargo Public Schools plans to change its health insurance plans in order to spend less money on the benefit and invest more into staff salaries.

Readers can reach West Fargo editor Wendy Reuer at wreuer@forumcomm.com or 701-241-5530 . Follow her on Twitter @ForumWendy .

As the West Fargo editor, Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum and oversees the production of the weekly Pioneer.
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