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Hanson School District doles out $44K to staff for 'Christmas bonus'

ALEXANDRIA -- Hanson School District employees rang in the new year with a little more cash in their pockets. Thanks to an increase in state aid for the district, each of the 59 Hanson School District staff members received an additional $750 pay...

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Hanson School is pictured in this file photo. (Republic file photo)

ALEXANDRIA - Hanson School District employees rang in the new year with a little more cash in their pockets.

Thanks to an increase in state aid for the district, each of the 59 Hanson School District staff members received an additional $750 payment above their regular pay for the Dec. 31 pay period.

District Business Manager Jodi Hruby said the district, which has 439 students, received additional funding after enrollment totals exceeded the anticipated 425-student enrollment budgeted in the spring. Because the state issues funding based on enrollment totals, Hruby said Hanson received approximately $65,000 in additional funds that were unforeseen during spring budgeting.

Of that $65,000 increase, $44,250 went directly to district staff.

"We always try to be very up front and honest with our staff that if we get extra (funds), that we would give back," Hruby said.

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Gary Jarding, president of the school board that unanimously approved what he called a "Christmas bonus," said he can only remember one other time the district has offered a similar payment to staff members during his 16 years on the board.

"We just felt that the enrollment gave us these dollars, it's the teachers and the staff that have to work with all the kids, why not give them quite a bit back?" Jarding said.

The $750 staff bonus comes just before the South Dakota Legislature meets for another year, in which lawmakers will likely focus heavily on education funding during its 2016 session.

The staff bonus also arrives on the heels of an estimated $2.6 million middle and high school expansion in the district that will include nine new classrooms to be used for the study of English, science and math. This expansion is the third phase in a series of upgrades for the district, including construction of a new elementary and library wing.

Aside from the $44,250 used for staff bonuses, Hruby said the additional $20,000 gained from the increase in enrollment will be placed in the district's general fund.

Although this is not an annual bonus, Jarding said the staff has been appreciative of the one-time payment.

"They were real thrilled about it; they didn't expect it," Jarding said. "I've had a lot of thank yous through email and in person."

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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