Long-term employees of San Jose Unified School District received an unexpected bonus payment the day before Thanksgiving to replace pay they lost to five furlough days in the 2010-2011 school year.
The one-time payment, a total of $3.1 million, was divided among the nearly 2,400 current employees – 74 percent of the district’s workforce – who were employed during the 2010-2011 school year and still work at the district, said the district’s chief business officer and former head of the San Jose teachers’ union, Stephen McMahon. Employees were paid what they lost during the days of the actual furlough, regardless of their current salary. School board members and district leaders see the payment, which came from the district’s reserves, as a fiscally conservative way to reward their best employees for loyalty during a tough economic time, McMahon said.
“We felt it was right to show (long-term) employees our appreciation,” McMahon said. “We’re not as competitive (with salaries and benefits) in the marketplace as we used to be. So this was a way to recognize our best employees.”
Like many districts in the state, San Jose Unified has not offered teachers raises since the start of the recession. Unlike in other districts, however, employees of the San Jose schools will not be getting across the board raises this year. McMahon said his district cannot count on a large windfall from the new Local Control Funding Formula for schools, and was not ready to implement ongoing raises based on the new funding formula and initial indications that the state economy is growing again.
“We think we’re being super fiscally conservative,” McMahon said. “We’re not taking what the state (funding formula provided) and using that to pay back employees.”