The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, May 12, 2021 1:00 am

FWCS teachers, staff to receive stipends

Up to $2,000, taken from federal funds, as virus 'hazard pay'

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne Community Schools employees are getting more than a thank-you card for a job well done during the pandemic. They can expect up to $2,000 in stipends.

Teachers and other staffers can't be thanked enough for what they've done and what they've been through, board member Steve Corona said at a meeting Monday.

“This is money well deserved, well earned,” he said. “It's hazard pay.”

The board unanimously approved applying about $7 million in federal coronavirus relief dollars to employee stipends in the amounts of $1,000, $1,500 and $2,000. Board member Noah Smith abstained, saying his wife works for the district.

More than $150 million has been allocated to FWCS in three rounds of federal funding during the pandemic. The stipends will be supported by the second round.

Administrators and salaried school-based staffers – such as teachers – will receive the highest amount.

To be eligible, workers must be employed on the last day of school, which is May 25 for students, said Charles Cammack Jr., chief operations officer. Prorated amounts will be given to those who worked fewer than 120 days.

Julie Hollingsworth, board secretary, described the stipends as appreciation pay. Employees – including bus drivers, food service workers, teachers and administrators – have displayed heroic efforts, she said.

“It's been a tough year for all staff,” Hollingsworth said. “This is a thank you for a job well done.”

Leaders in East Allen County Schools and Northwest Allen County Schools recently approved similar payment for their employees. NACS' stipends are $500 and $750, and EACS' are $500 and $1,000.

Corona applauded FWCS for staying open this academic year when other schools didn't or struggled to stay open.

“We followed the science, and I know people weren't happy about masks, but you know what – they kept us open,” Corona said.

Data show that FWCS has the lowest rates of COVID-19 cases within Allen County, said Anne Duff, board president.

NACS leads Allen County school districts in student COVID-19 rates at about 3%, according to Monday's school virus dashboard update.

Rates for other districts are about 2.2% at EACS, about 1.7% at Southwest Allen County Schools and 1.4% to 1.7% at FWCS.

A more specific rate for FWCS cannot be calculated with publicly available information, because student case totals are suppressed for 20 schools that have five or fewer student cases. The district has about 50 schools and almost 30,000 students.

District enrollments used in the rate calculation are according to the Indiana Department of Education.

“Our schools were some of the safest places in the county,” Corona said. “We were a good place to be during COVID.”


Homestead principal returns to work

A Southwest Allen County Schools principal who was hospitalized with COVID-19 returned to work Tuesday, district spokeswoman Stacey Fleming said.

The district announced Park Ginder's hospitalization in an April  21 email to families at the request of his wife.

Ginder is principal of Homestead High School.

“Yes, we welcomed Dr. Ginder back to school today,” Fleming said by email. “He will be limiting his hours but plans to be in the building much of the week and beyond.”

Homestead has reported 47 student cases, eight staff cases and five or fewer teacher cases to the state's school virus dashboard, which was updated Monday. The school has about 2,500 students.

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