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DeSantis Proposes $1,000 Bonuses For K-12 Teachers And Principals

man speaks at podium with two women wearing masks standing behind him
Florida Channel/WTVT
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced proposed $1,000 bonuses for Florida's K-12 public school teachers and principals at Palm Harbor University High School Thursday.

The proposed $1,000 bonus will go to more than 3,600 principals and nearly 180,000 full-time classroom teachers.

Under a plan announced by Gov. Ron DeSantis, principals and teachers at Florida's K-12 public schools will receive $1,000 bonuses.

The proposed $216 million will come from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund), a federal pandemic emergency relief fund for educators that's part of the CARES Act.

DeSantis made the announcement Wednesday at Palm Harbor University High School in Pinellas County.

"This proposal will provide a bonus to more than 3,600 principals and nearly 180,000 full-time classroom teachers," he said.

"Our Florida teachers and school principals have put students success first throughout the course of the coronavirus pandemic, and so we're asking the legislature, since they're in session, we have these ESSER Funds from the federal government," said DeSantis. "And we'd like that to be appropriated during the session so that we can get these checks out as soon as possible."

Pinellas School Superintendent Michael Grego added that educators have earned the bonus.

"The teachers have been in the center of this journey every single day, trying to figure it out, how to make it work, and this has been our mantra — we're going to refuse to allow this year to be anything less for our students," he said.

According to Pinellas County School District figures, 86 teachers and 16 employees at Palm Harbor University High have tested positive for COVID-19 during this school year.

Before it becomes official, Florida's legislature must approve the payments to educators, as well as similar $1,000 bonuses for first responders DeSantis announced March 16.

“The Governor’s proposal is just one way we can show our appreciation to our hard-working teachers and principals who guided Florida through these immense challenges, and I look forward to the Legislature making it a reality,“ said Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran.

DeSantis signed a bill in June 2020 putting $500 million towards boosting the minimum salaries of classroom teachers to at least $47,500 and giving raises to veteran teachers.

In addition, his budget recommendation for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 includes an additional $50 million to continue raising that minimum salary.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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