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Nebraska lawmakers seek ARPA-funded bonuses for educators

1K educators have left the profession since pandemic began between OPS and LPS
Posted at 6:43 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 19:48:50-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Lawmakers, including State Sen. Carol Blood, are aiming to stop the draining of teachers from Nebraska schools.

The Nebraska State Education Association estimates 1,000 educators left Omaha Public Schools and Lincoln Public Schools since the pandemic began, with 1,000 more planning to leave throughout the state at the end of this school year.

“We need to act quickly to stop teachers from leaving the profession,” said Blood.

In her bill, Blood seeks bonuses for all public school teachers and staff in the amount of $1,000 each.

The cost of over $50 million would be paid for by money from the American Rescue Plan.

“I would argue that you cannot put a price tag on the increased workload of teachers and staff as a result of the pandemic, but we can offer these bonuses as a thank you to them,” said Blood.

Other bills are also seeking to use that pot of money to help teachers. One bill gives bonuses of $10,000 to educators in under-served communities. Another bill pays teachers $200 each as reimbursement for COVID-related costs, specifically for masks and cleaning supplies.

“The asks kept coming and the teachers are expected to make it work,” said Robert Miller, head of the OPS teacher’s union.

Another bill would give $1,000 apiece to public schools staff and private school staff alike. Due to the increase of employees getting a bonus, that bill would cost almost $40 million more than Blood’s bill.

Blood’s bill does not give bonuses to school administrators.

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