FLORENCE, S.C. – More than 200 Florence One Schools teachers will receive $2,000 bonuses this year for having perfect attendance during the 2018-19 academic year.
At the beginning of the school year, Richard O'Malley, the superintendent of Florence One Schools, announced that as an incentive to teachers, those who had perfect attendance would receive an extra $2,000.
“That (the cost) is somewhat priceless when you have a certified teacher in the classroom every day with the students,” O’Malley said.
With the increased monetary incentive, the number of teachers who kept perfect attendance rose from 24 teachers to 262 from the 2017-18 school year to the 2018-19 school year.
O’Malley said that during the past school year, the teachers who had perfect attendance had students who received higher test scores.
“We felt like … if teachers are there and involved in their students’ lives, then we’ll have an increase in student achievement,” O’Malley said.
South Florence High School had the most teachers with perfect attendance, which was 22. North Vista Elementary School and West Florence High School both had 19 teachers, and Greenwood Elementary School had 17 teachers with perfect attendance.
For Andrew and Michelle Cummings, who both teach at West Florence High School, it isn’t hard to come to work every day because they love their jobs, but the bonus is a nice reward for being in the classroom every day, they said.
“For us it’s about loving your job and showing up to work every day,” Andrew said. “It’s a part of our core of ethics and core of our morality is that when you have a job to do, you show up and do it effectively.”
The couple said the bonus will help them in purchasing a home this summer.
Erick Figueras, a chorus teacher at South Florence High School, said he and his wife, Erin Figueras, who teaches at John W. Moore Intermediate School, both got perfect attendance as well.
“We were lucky our kids didn’t get sick or anything,” Erick said. “We don’t take off too much time anyway, but this kind of dissuaded us from taking those little mental health days here and there, but in general this is a great program.”
Erick said the money from the bonus will go toward home repairs that they haven’t been able to complete in the past.
“I imagine it’s going to be fairly nice for the community as well,” Erick said. “We are going to take that money and we’re going to spend it, so some local business is going to work on our house, and that wouldn’t have happened if that $2,000 didn’t come our way.”
Erick said he also thinks the bonus will help attract teachers to the district.