OWOSSO — Owosso Public Schools employees soon will receive bonus payments as a thank you for “outstanding service” throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Owosso Public Schools Board of Education members Monday unanimously approved bonus payments for all district employees, excluding the superintendent, with amounts varying based on an employee’s service time to the district.

The district will draw approximately $356,500 from its general fund balance to make the payments, according to Chief Financial Officer Julie Omer. This represents only about 2 percent of the district's budgeted salaries included in the 2021-22 budget, she said.

“All employees have been required to go well above and beyond for the last two years as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Superintendent Andrea Tuttle wrote in a memo to board members. “It is felt that a stipend paid in two payments will demonstrate, in a tangible way: 1) The district’s appreciation for services already provided by the employee; and 2) The district’s desire to retain its dedicated employees that continue to provide outstanding service to the students of the district, especially in such a competitive employment environment.”

While bonus payments were not planned for in the district’s 2021-22 budget approved by board members in June, the financial results of a recent audit — reflecting an 18% general fund balance — demonstrated the ability to offer these payments to employees, Tuttle said.

Current employees who started on or after July 1 this year will receive a $500 bonus in two $250 installments. The first installment will be paid to employees in December, with the second in June 2022.

Current employees who joined the district prior to July 1 will receive a $1,000 bonus in two $500 installments, with payments awarded in December and June 2022. Omer estimates about 10 percent of the district's 375 employees started after July 1 this year.

“I feel like (the bonuses) are very well deserved for our staff,” board Treasurer Sara Keyes said. “Thank you so much for all that you do. It’s not nearly enough to express how much you are truly appreciated. Honestly, it just kind of seems like pennies compared to some of the stuff that you guys have had to put up with for the last two years.”

Trustee Olga Quick suggested board members amend the proposal to include Tuttle in the bonus payments.

The superintendent, while expressing appreciation for the gesture, declined to accept a bonus.

“I’d genuinely would prefer not to be included, and that’s why I proposed (the bonuses) as such,” she said.

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