NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Christmas came early for staff members in what was a well-organized, carefully guarded surprise that took place, all at the same time, across the Royse City Independent School District.

The North Texas school district wanted to give a big thank you to its employees, for their year-round dedication, and they did it with cold, hard cash.

Royse City ISD administrators call the $440,000 gift to staff ‘an investment.’ Today the superintendent and principals shocked teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, crossing guards, and other workers, presenting them with checks for $500.

The surprise was approved by the school board as a show of appreciation.

Many teachers told CBS 11 News they plan to re-invest the money in their students.

“It’s nice when the school district acknowledges that we are working hard. This is a little extra boost for you, and we’re able to honestly share it forward,” said kindergarten teacher Cynthia Wineinger. “It’s more things we can get for the classroom, and more things we can get for our own families.”

School Board President Julie Stutts said it only makes sense that employees would reap some of the rewards that have come to the district.

“We’re a fast-growing district, so we’ve had a little extra growth, and a little more money in the budget,” she said. “Whenever we can pull some of that money and invest it back in our teachers, that’s what we like to do.”

School officials say this isn’t the first time they were able to reward their employees in some way, and it won’t be the last.