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Watauga County School Board Votes To Phase Out Annual ‘Christmas Bonus’ Into Monthly Payment

By Jesse Wood

Jan. 14, 2014. New teachers to Watauga County Schools will now receive their supplement per month instead of the annual lump sum that many teachers looked forward to as a Christmas bonus.

On Monday evening, the Watauga County Board of Education unanimously approved the measure, which is effective as of the previous supplement that was paid by the district on Nov. 27, 2013.

WCS Supt. David Fonseca mentioned that the one-time supplement date “doesn’t always match up” with the coming and going of employees. Depending on the date of the supplement and date of a teacher leaving or arriving, some teach most of the year and don’t receive the supplement while others could work two months and receive the supplement.  

Fonseca also mentioned that many school districts have already made this move. WCS Finance Director Ly Marze mentioned that this likely wouldn’t be a deciding factor for new employees

“If coming from another district, nine times out of ten (they would come from a district with a monthly supplement),” Marze said. “If out of college, they won’t know the difference.”

Current employees have the option of opting into the monthly supplement or retaining the annual lump sum, although Dr. Stephen Martin, director of human resources, said the intent is to phase out the annual supplement in time – even if it takes two decades to occur.

Board Member Barbara Kinsey, who has also taught for decades and could remember when teachers were told not to cash the supplement until a certain day because there wasn’t enough money in the bank, spoke about how teachers look toward the lump sum each Christmas time.

Before Kinsey realized that the intent was to phase out of the annual supplement in time, Kinsey said, “That [intent] just needs to be understood.”