Salem-Keizer to spend $17.7 million on employee retention bonuses

The Salem-Keizer School District is using millions of dollars in federal Covid relief money to provide retention bonuses to nearly all district employees.

Most full and part-time employees will receive a total of two payments totaling $2,250 this year, Superintendent Christy Perry said in an all-staff email Friday.

The money is intended “as a thank-you for all you continue to do, rising to the demands of operating during the pandemic,” Perry said.

The district expects to spend about $17.7 million on the bonuses, district spokeswoman Emily Hicks said, with payments to about 5,560 employees. The funds are coming from the district’s share of federal Covid relief money.

Substitute teachers are not eligible, Hicks said.

Employees will receive $1,250 in their March paychecks. Those still working by Oct. 31, 2022 will receive a second $1,000 bonus in their November paychecks.

The payments come as district educators have raised concerns about burnout and high workloads this year. The district, like many others in Oregon and across the U.S., has struggled to maintain adequate staffing and substitute coverage, resulting in several days of canceled classes and many teachers forgoing preparation time to cover colleagues’ classrooms.

“The district will continue to work with the associations on ways to support the health and wellness of SKPS employees as we navigate the changing environment and state mandates,” Perry said in the announcement. “I am deeply appreciative of you for how you show up for our students.”

-Rachel Alexander