On four days in February (Feb. 16-18 and 21), two-thirds of Madison School District teachers called in sick to attend the protests over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill – enough to shut the schools down those four days.
The teachers’ pay was docked, saving the district $1.3 million, so one school board member is proposing this money be used to give year-end bonuses to all teachers and staff, including the ones who went AWOL. Board member Ed Hughes is proposing bonuses of a $200 gift card plus $60 to pay related income taxes on them, “as a gesture of appreciation for all the hard work our teachers and staff have done through these hard times.”
A citizen activist called Hughes’ proposal “crazy,” adding: “Why does he think he should reward teachers when two-thirds of them broke the law in the first place?”
Hughes, who aspires to be school board president, is also proposing a $2 million tax hike in the district next year to pay for maintenance, technology, and other costs.
One other board member opposes the proposal. “It seems goofy that we give away $1 million and then raise property taxes,” she said. Another said the public might oppose it.
UPDATE, MAY 20: Madison School District Board member Ed Hughes late Thursday withdrew his controversial idea to give $200 gift cards plus $60 to pay income taxes to schools’ staff and teachers, including the two-thirds of teachers who went AWOL during the budget repair bill protests. The $1.3 million to fund the gift cards was to come from money docked from the salaries who called in sick when they weren’t ill.