Teachers Given Pandemic Memento Tokens, Administrators Get Bonuses

As the chaotic school year comes to a close, a handful of administrators and nurses were awarded sizable bonuses for working through the pandemic, leaving teachers reeling over their “thank you”—a literal token.

Superintendent Scott Ziegler distributed challenge coins to all teachers as a memento for working through one of the most trying times in the district’s history. With an ever-changing distance learning plan, social justice upheaval, and the eventual return to classrooms, teachers confronted unanticipated challenges and uncertainty daily.

In a letter to teachers, Ziegler said the coin “symbolizes this year’s work to bridge the gaps, caused by the effects of the pandemic, to educate our students in distance learning, and to transition to hybrid learning. It symbolizes our work rebuilding and reinventing systems to feed our students even when they were learning at home. It represents all of the ways we reinvented our school activities, clubs and sports, so students could continue to participate in a year of uncertainty.”

On the coin is an image of the John G. Lewis Memorial Bridge on Featherbed Lane near Lovettsville.

Many teachers were left wondering why they didn’t receive COVID bonuses, as many members of the faculty did. Last week, the School Board approved a slew of bonuses as part of its efforts to distribute the division’s year-end surplus. Nine top administrators received a $1,000 per month prorated bonus totaling $105,600. Hundreds of county vaccination staff received $2,000. Principals, assistant principals, deans, counseling directors, academies coordinator, and academy directors received $2,000. The bonuses in total cost the district $1,630,848.

Board member Denise Corbo (At Large) strongly opposed giving administration bonuses. In an email sent to Ziegler obtained by Loudoun Now, Corbo expressed discord with the large administration bonuses before they were approved in June 8th’s School Board meeting.

“(The motion) will resonate negatively for teaching staff who carried the majority of the load this year… Is there another way to use the $3m other than administrators?” Corbo asked.

Corbo proposed $500 quarterly bonuses for teachers working in classrooms with students who could not properly distance or wear masks. However, the plan was significantly altered by the board members’ suggestions, and ultimately, very few front line teachers saw bonuses.

Although there was no end-of-year bonus warded to teachers across the board, the School Board did approve bonuses, stipends, and extra pay for staff members several times throughout the pandemic. A division spokesman said a comprehensive list detailing those were not available.

Many states and school districts have awarded teachers bonuses for working through the pandemic. In Utah, teachers received a $1,500 bonus. The proposed North Carolina budget includes a $2,000 bonus. Here in Virginia, the Prince William County School Board is considering a $1,600 bonus for teachers—a nod to the hazardous conditions staff worked through this school year.

“Had we given given a bonus like Prince William County is considering in addition to the coin, it would have made a meaningful impact,” Corbo said to Ziegler.

“It feels like a slap in the face that we were going in and working in the classrooms, and we didn’t get a bonus,” said one county high school teacher.

Carla Wallace, a Loudoun elementary school teacher, said that some of the bonuses were inappropriate, but that the coin was a nice gesture from Ziegler.

“I know they’re angry about the bonus, and we haven’t been recognized enough and a coin doesn’t cut the mustard,” Wallace said.

“I’m very disappointed how everyone is complaining about the coin. I like Dr. Ziegler. I think he’s trying to do something nice and supportive and recognize us,” she said.

Wallace said that the nurses were deserving of the bonuses they received after ensuring that the vaccine was distributed smoothly. Her biggest concern was that cabinet members—the superintendent and highest-level administrators—got bonuses.

“They’ve met virtually and we [teachers] were boots on the ground,” she said.

The staff and administrator bonuses were approved at the June 8 School Board meeting.

8 thoughts on “Teachers Given Pandemic Memento Tokens, Administrators Get Bonuses

  • 2021-06-16 at 5:02 pm

    A hokey Challenge Coin? (probably made in China) While the fat cats at Education Court got fat stacks…

    Wake up teachers. This shows what they really think of you and our kids.

  • 2021-06-16 at 8:10 pm

    The SB gave away taxpayers’ money from an intentionally inflated budget request. It was not their money to give away. Taxpayers have lost jobs. They have lost businesses. They have had to pay $1000s in daycare costs because teachers refused to do their jobs. And despite getting $4000 raises for not doing their jobs, they are whining about not leeching more off of the taxpayers. These teachers are the THE most despicable creatures I have ever seen in my life. Virtually all of my friends agree but many are too afraid to speak out because of how vengeful and selfish these teachers are.

  • 2021-06-16 at 8:56 pm

    I suggest everyone go down to the school board offices and fling their “Major Award” over the fence into Mr. Ziegler’s compound. See if you can toss it into his gold-plated wading pool for extra points.

    Vote. Them. Out! Recall them all now!

  • 2021-06-17 at 10:31 am

    What a slap in the face. You can say what you want about the school system not opening last year, but the fact of the matter is it was the teachers who had to deal with the disaster of distance learning, NOT the admin folks. Teachers I know say they were thrown under the bus by the admin and forced to struggle through distance learning despite giving feedback to the admin about how it wasn’t working for kids, especially K-5, ESL, special needs, and minorities.

    School board member Denise Corbo opposed giving the admin people bonuses instead of the teachers, and Ziegler ignored her. What kind of leadership ability does he have if he thinks giving someone a $5 coin is acceptable, while his already-overpaid admin staff, who didn’t work with kids or deal with parents last year, get richer? Especially when neighboring counties gave their teachers a bonus?

    Ziegler is not off to a good start. Too bad the county didn’t receive enough applications from people more qualified than him, as he was clearly only hired because he was already here…no one else would want this job with the current climate in LCPS…and now Ziegler has turned his teachers against him too.

    • 2021-06-17 at 1:23 pm

      It was taxpayers’ $$. It should have never been included in the intentionally inflated budget. It should have been returned to the taxpayers rather than handed out as end-of-year goodies courtesy of RINOs like Jeff Morse and Matt Letourneau.

      In fact, they should have all had their salaries cut!!

    • 2021-06-21 at 7:38 pm

      Distance learning wasn’t a “disaster.” Stop being so dramatic.

      But a commemorative coin? Who the heck wants to remember/commemorate a pandemic year?

  • 2021-06-18 at 7:59 am

    Grab some popcorn….this is getting interesting!

    For the past year and half, it was obvious to Loudoun parents that LCPS did not give a crap about Loudoun students. We parents complained and are put on an Enemies List crafted by School Board members.

    Now, Loudoun teachers find out how much the administration values them when they receive a coin for their services while the same admin receives huge cash bonuses.

    Teachers howl. They howl even louder when Prince William County announces this week that all teachers will receive a $1600 year end bonus.

    Teacher leadership just voted in Mr Ziegler and things will NOT be getting better anytime soon with Loudoun education. It has been politicized and kids and teacher are NOT a priority.

    More popcorn, please.

  • 2021-06-22 at 7:02 am

    Have to agree with Virginia SGP but are his objections strong enough. State Statute 22.1-79 EXPLICITLY includes as the justification for the authority of Virginia school boards that they manage with UTMOST EFFICIENCY. THIS is not that! So why aren’t the petitions to have the school board removed including direct legal violations of the law that authorizes the school board in the first place. How could $1.4 billion be spent under utmost efficient conditions when assistant teachers, cafeteria personnel, security personnel, school counselors, buses and the fuel they use were never involved with teachers holding class over zoom from home? Finally, one has to ask why taxpayers are not demanding all candidates for elected office to promise to insert an amendment into state law allowing an education property tax credit to be usable for sending their child to private school if the public monopoly school isn’t performing efficiently or even appropriately? Why is choice of schools such a scary option if public schools were offering the best quality which in my experience LCPS was while I was on the school board. 🙂

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