East Lansing School Staffers Receive Surprise Bonuses

Wednesday, November 27, 2019, 9:25 am
By: 
Ann Nichols

Above: Donley Elementary teachers Michaela Norman and Megan Gracik (photos by Raymond Holt).

The administration of the East Lansing Public Schools has distributed one-time bonus checks to all District employees, from lunch servers to building principals.

In a written statement on November 19, District Superintendent Dori Leyko explained that the decision to give the bonuses came as a result of a surplus of funds from the 2018-19 school year following the year-end audit.

Said Leyko, “We’ve been adding to our fund balance for the past few years and felt that we currently have a healthy stable fund balance. Our most valuable asset in the District is our people, so I took a recommendation to the Board of Education in October, and they unanimously supported and approved this expenditure.”

Leyko was not sure that bonuses had ever been given to East Lansing school staffers, but one long-time employee told her she did not recall it happening in her 39 years with the District.

A total of 377 employees received a bonus, and all had to have been employed by the District on October 14, the date the Board of Education voted to distribute the funds, as well as on the distribution date of November 15.

Employees regularly scheduled to work twenty or more hours a week received one thousand dollars, and those scheduled to work fewer than twenty hours a week received five hundred dollars. There were 341 employees at the thousand-dollar bonus level and 36 at the five-hundred-dollar level.

Leyko wrote that “all employees received hard copy checks with handwritten personal notes from me on the outside of the envelope. People have been extremely appreciative for both the bonus checks and the personal notes.”

Bonus recipients aren’t the only community members grateful for an opportunity to give back to school employees.

“Teachers do some of the most important work in society while facing tremendous, relentless obstacles yet they are paid a wage that is an insult to their value and is insufficient to cover the cost of becoming a teacher and maintaining certification,” said Cecilia Garcia-Linz, parent of a 5th grade student at Glencairn Elementary School and a graduate of East Lansing School District.

“I'm grateful to the school district, Board of Education and Superintendent Leyko for recognizing the need to give back to those who have given so much to our children and families,” she said.

“The best part for me,” concludes Leyko, “has been hearing the plans for this money from our employees – extra spending money for an upcoming vacation, home improvements, paying off a bill or just purchasing a special item for themselves.”

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