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'A true blessing': Bibb County teachers grateful for district's $1,000 bonus for staff

The school board decided to spend $3.9 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds on the bonuses. The goal is to help the district hold on to its employees.

MACON, Ga. — If you're a full-time Bibb County school employee you should be getting an extra $1,000 in your pay come January. Part-time employees could be getting up to $500.

The school board decided to spend $3.9 million in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds on the bonuses. The goal is to help the district hold on to its employees.

The school district says from 2020-2021 their teacher retention was just over 80%, meaning almost one out of five teachers left between last school year and this one.

Marissa Rondina has spent 15 years teaching biology at Rutland High and says there's no place she'd rather be.

"When there is more appreciation, teachers are going to reciprocate that appreciation by even working harder with our students. We love our students, we love our school," said Rondina.

Attaching action to the thanks means even more.

"We have a mission -- 'People first,' and yes, people first. Yes, teachers, appreciation first. This appreciation that they have expressed monetarily really makes me feel like working even harder," said Rondina.

Tanya Allen, a principal at Burdell Hunt Elementary, says recognition is important.

"This last year-and-a-half has been quite a challenge, and the teachers have been dedicated. They've come to school, they've faced all kinds of personal challenges, too," said Allen.

Allen says they are being valued, especially on payday. 

"Education is really an underpaid profession, so I think any little extra incentive that says, 'Hey, we are committed back to you,' is nothing but a win-win for the school district, so I see it as a true blessing and an opportunity for the district to try to retain some of the great teachers who we're working with," said Allen.

School district workers who are on service agreements and regular non-long-term substitutes do not qualify for the bonus.

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