California Schools May Use COVID Relief Money to Pay Teacher Bonuses

The state's teachers' unions have pushed to keep schools closed

empty classroom
• March 16, 2021 7:10 pm


Multiple California public schools and teachers' unions discussed using federal and state COVID-19 relief funding to pay for teacher bonuses.

At least two school districts in California may give teachers thousands of dollars of aid intended to safely reopen schools as bonuses, according to messages uncovered by the group Reopen California Schools and reported by the Daily Mail. One union even said teachers could use the money for a trip to Hawaii.

The Clovis Unified School District's Employee Compensation Committee last week discussed giving teachers $6,000 bonuses using money allocated by Assembly Bill 86 to support school reopening efforts.

San Juan Unified schools in January discussed using those funds to pay 1 percent bonuses to all school staffers—even though the district will remain closed until early April. Under the proposed plan, San Juan schools' food-service workers will each receive a $300 bonus. Teachers and the superintendent will receive $1,000 and $3,000 each, respectively.

The Dublin Teachers Association issued a memo asking the Dublin Unified School District to give teachers a $2,500 bonus and offered suggestions for how that money could be spent. The union's ideas ranged from classroom technology and personal protective equipment to childcare and "an airplane trip to Hawaii when this is all over."

Although between 80 to 90 percent of Dublin teachers are vaccinated, students will not return to the classroom until Thursday. The Dublin Teachers Association noted in its memo that this situation creates "pretty bad optics."

Congress passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill on March 10 that allocated nearly $40 billion to reopen schools. Teachers' unions have led the push to keep schools closed during the coronavirus pandemic despite low rates of transmission in the classroom setting. Unions have also called for prioritizing teachers in vaccination efforts and demanded funding boosts.