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LRSD employees to receive bonuses next week following last minute decision

More than 3,000 Little Rock School District employees are set to receive a bonus next week after the one-time pay bump was signed off on by State Education Commissioner Johnny Key (Photo: KATV)

More than 3,000 Little Rock School District employees will receive a $1,000 bonus next week after State Education Commissioner Johnny Key signed off on the one-time pay bump early Friday afternoon.

The decision comes after an overnight Twitter storm from LRSD employees directed toward Commissioner Key, concerned the previously negotiated bonus wouldn't come when the money was initially promised. Teresa Knapp Gordon, president of the Little Rock Education Association said the district had come to an agreement with the district's teacher's union to have the money paid out before teachers left for spring break. In order to make that happen, the bonuses had to be signed off on by Friday night due to a payroll deadline.

"I don't know what caused him to do it; the Twitter storm, the legislators calling him, the goodness of his heart - I don't know, but I'm glad he did it," said Knapp Gordon.

Knapp Gordon said employees had gone without any form of a pay raise since before the district was taken over by the state back in 2015. She says the one-time bonus will cost the district around $4.2 million.

In a letter sent from Key to LRSD Superintendent Michael Poore authorizing the bonuses, Key said he's "glad the current financial condition of the district is sufficient to support the bonus." But Key followed that up by saying, "providing bonuses is not the best way to remain competitive in recruiting and retaining effective talent." Key suggested district leaders and the LREA sit down to take a good look at the district's pay scale, emphasizing that the district has a rather low starting salary for first-time teachers.

LRSD Superintendent Michael Poore released this statement regarding the bonuses on Friday:

“We are excited to honor all of our employees with a $1,000 bonus, which will be received before spring break,” said Superintendent Poore. “We appreciate the thorough review of the proposed bonus by Commissioner Key and thank LRSD Chief Financial Officer Kelsey Bailey, along with negotiating teams from the District and the Little Rock Education Association for their collaborative efforts.”

‘While we know that LRSD faces a budget reduction next year, a bonus like this does not occur without the District having a strong financial foundation,” he added. “We believe this clearly shows we are committed to fiscal responsibility, being good stewards of the resources entrusted to us, and honoring our employees. They have been steadfast in their work, helping us through tough budget decisions while leading us with positive strides in student achievement.”

District employees can expect to see the bonus in a separate check on March 9.

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