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Pueblo District 60 giving vaccinated teachers a $1k stipend

KRDO

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO)-- There's a big check going into the bank accounts of some staff in Pueblo's School District 60. Monday, District 60 employees received an email saying some would receive a $1,000 incentive stipend if they were fully vaccinated by Nov. 10. For unvaccinated staff, however, they won't see a dollar of that bonus. 

The district told KRDO the $1,000 is being called an incentive stipend for keeping classrooms safe.

"We find ourselves in a pretty unique situation, and this is just one way that we can tell our teachers, thank you for being responsible, [for doing] their best to provide a safe and healthy environment where we can teach in person," District 60 spokesperson Dalton Sprouse said.

For vaccinated teachers, it's a great surprise during the holiday season.

"I was putting a timer on my phone for my students and saw that there were emails, so I picked up my phone, saw the email, and got really excited," Jeanette Valdez said with a grin.

Valdez teaches at Minnequa Elementary School. That email she saw was the announcement from District 60, telling her she was getting $1,000 for being vaccinated.

She says the payout is a nice gesture, but in her eyes, getting the vaccine was a no-brainer.

"I did it because I wanted to be safe for kids here at this school. Our kids are what comes first," Valdez said. "I did not want to be out of the classroom and I did not want them to be out of the classroom."

According to the district, the money for the bonus comes from leftover COVID relief funding. District 60 received roughly $43 million from the American Rescue Plan fund.

While many teachers are excited about the incentive, some non-vaccinated teachers told KRDO they don't think it was fair they were left out.

"It was like a slap in the face to me," Janet Hidalgo, who says she is unvaccinated for medical reasons, told KRDO. "It's not easy work in education. We don't get paid enough right now. So to dangle $1,000 over somebody's face saying 'get your vaccine' is bribery to me."

Right now, District 60 does not have a vaccine mandate in place.

For unvaccinated staff who are willing to get vaccinated now, Sprouse says there will be a second opportunity for teachers to show proof of vaccination and get the stipend at a later date. Additional information will be sent to staff in January 2022.

Hourly and temporary employees are currently excluded from this incentive, except for ISS Supervisors.

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Spencer Soicher

Spencer is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about him here.

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