TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – After months of teaching during a pandemic, school districts in Texarkana are surprising their teachers and staff with additional money in their paychecks for the holidays.
Christmas is here a little early for about 1,700 teachers and staff in Texarkana.
“It was first thing in the morning. So my students started laughing because I jumped up and did the happy dance. So they were like… ‘Are you okay Ms. Smith?’ I’m like ‘Yeah I’m great.’ We’re getting a COVID bonus and it’s great,” said TASD math teacher April Smith.
Two school districts boosted paychecks by $500 to $1,000. Staff members were notified by email. Texarkana Independent School District says they give bonuses every year, but this time they were able to give more money.
“I just think it was a great lift for our staff. COVID-19 you know it’s been very strenuous. All the work that’s having to be done, double work,” said interim TISD Superintendent Autumn Thomas.
Texarkana, Arkansas Superintendent, Dr. Becky Kesler said their district is one of two in the state to receive the funds for holiday checks. Kesler says the district fought hard for the additional money from the state after being denied on several occasions.
“We were able to provide them information and prove that they worked a lot of additional hours due to COVID-19. And that they were very deserving of some additional funds.”
Some teachers say they’re looking forward to spending the extra money on Christmas shopping. Others are happy to get back what they spent on school supplies this semester.
“It’s also helped kind of recoup some of the expenses that we’ve had for buying things that may help us with the distance learning proportion of it. With our virtual kids and that kind of thing,” said Smith.
Each district is giving away about a half of a million dollars.