MASSILLON, Ohio — A plan to award bonuses to Massillon City School administrators using COVID relief money is drawing criticism from the union representing the district's teachers.
They believe the estimated $140,000 in payments approved for 31 administrators this week should be spent to help students close the learning gap widened by the pandemic.
"I think this is the equivalent of our administration holding a 'Mission Accomplished' banner, patting each other on the back at a time when every student, teacher, parent and staff member is still in the fog of war," said union representative and high school social studies teacher Alyssa Plakas.
In a statement, Massillon Superintendent Paul Salvino said, "Administrators traditionally have high demands outside of their contracted work calendars / days and this is never unusual. The pandemic and our need to address the reopening of the 20-21 school year as well as maintaining an All-In five days a week learning model throughout the school year posed an even more extensive amount of time for these tasks."
The money will come out of nearly $5.7 million the district is set to receive in money allocated to the district to address the impact of the pandemic.
The district said it is also using funding to purchase new Chromebooks, technology and software upgrades, and increased pay for teachers for after-school and summer programming for students, among other things.
But Plakas believes it doesn't go far enough.
She denied the union is upset teachers did not receive bonuses.
Instead, Plakas said she'd like to see the money spent on more tutors and support services and programs for students.
"We've had students in and out sick, family members sick, so it has not been normal for our students, but our school days have been normal," Plakas said.
She said only after the learning gap has been closed should the district consider pay increases.
"We want our students to be taken care of first," Plakas said. "If all of their needs are met, then you can look at the extra money, but so far, we're not there," said Plakas.
The union is hopeful administrators will return the bonuses, which equal 10 days of extra pay.
A district spokesperson said the superintendent was not available for an interview Friday.
Superintendent Paul Salvino is one of the administrators on the list to receive the extra money.