Atlanta Public Schools Changes Position, Decides to Pay $1000 Holiday Bonus to Employees

Atlanta Public Schools is changing its decision to pay employees a $1,000 bonus that was initially announced by Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday, Dec. 18. APS officials said the reason for their decision not to pay the $1000 bonus was due to a preemptive payment it called a $1,000 “Mid-Year Holiday Retention Stipend” to its employees two weeks before the governor’s announcement and they would hold the end of year bonus to replace monies already paid. But APS reconsidered it’s decision after a Georgia’s superintendent of education sent out a scathing public letter criticizing the system for saying it wouldn’t pay the money.

In a letter to Atlanta Public Schools interim Superintendent Danielle Battle, State Superintendent Richard Woods expressed his confusion at the claim made by the Atlanta system that it had foreseen the bonus when it distributed a $1,000 “Mid-Year Holiday Retention Stipend” to its employees on Dec. 14. This occurred before Kemp announced the state’s plan to allocate funds.

Spokesperson Seth Coleman stated that once the funds are disbursed for the governor’s proposal and there is clarification on which categories of employees should receive the bonus, we are committed to passing along any additional funds.

Woods wrote that the purpose of the state’s $1,000 retention pay supplement is not to fill the Atlanta Public Schools budget or contribute to the cost of teacher recognition provided by districts.

The initial position had caused a revolt among teachers and employees in the Atlanta system, with numerous individuals calling or sending emails to the state to express their grievances.
Kemp said that the bonus would be received by 196,000 teachers and support staff, as well as state and university employees throughout the state.

Earlier this week, Woods informed superintendents via email that the state department would be sending the funds in a special payment within a short time. He also mentioned that districts could distribute the funds in January if they had already finished paying their employees in December. There is a lack of clarity regarding the positions that will receive the money. Woods expressed that guidance would be sent out at the earliest opportunity.

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