The Alpine School District has spent a half-million dollars to give its employees a one-time bonus.

About 2,400 employees, including administrative, classroom and classified personnel, received $200 each, about 1 percent of the average salary.Superintendent Steven Baugh said the bonus fulfills a promise made to Alpine Education Association leaders during contract negotiations. The idea was initially discussed in 1987, but then-Superintendent Clark Cox later decided to defer payment of the bonus until after several tax-cutting measures were decided by voters in November 1988.

Baugh said that because the tax initiatives were defeated and the Legislature recently approved a 3 percent increase in the state's standard appropriation to the district, administrators feel comfortable spending the money.

"The bonus is well-deserved. We're pleased that it could be extended at this time," he said. "It's a symbol of the value that the board of education places on the employees. There are many, many needs in the district, but the board chose to meet that need. I think it was an excellent decision."

No critical needs, such as facility maintenance or textbook purchases, will be affected by the expenditure, he said. "This was a matter of the board doing something that was good and right," Baugh said.

Employees have showered gratitude on board members and administrators. School board President Richard Gappmayer said he's received many letters and phone calls from employees happy with the board's decision.

"It appears to me to be a very positive thing that we've done," he said. "I hope the teachers and staff will be aware we do appreciate them with this bonus. This bonus is simply a way to say `thank you' to our teachers and support personnel for sticking with us and maintaining professionalism through some difficult times.

"These people haven't had what we could consider a real pay raise in a number of years," Gapp-mayer said. "We decided that if things worked out, we would try to give them a small bonus. This raise amounts to less than 1 percent for our average employees, but it is all we can do at the pres-ent time. They deserve more. In my opinion, teachers are overworked and underpaid."

AEA President Bart Farnsworth said teachers are happy with the bonus.

"We appreciate the board of education saying `thank you' to the educators in this manner. The productivity of all concerned has allowed for this bonus," he said. "We commend all educators and hope that everyone continues to be efficient and effective."

*****

Small but welcome

All employees in the Alpine School District have received a $200 bonus, leaving the district a bit poorer, but personnel say they are grateful.