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DeSantis comes up short on teacher bonuses

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis did not get as much money as he wanted for teacher bonuses in the new state budget, but he told reporters Wednesday it will be an issue that he would like to tackle during the 2020 legislative session.

“I think the formula is a little bit different than we wanted to do it, but that’s the legislative process,” DeSantis said.

House and Senate budget writers agreed to provide $284.5 million for the “Best and Brightest” program, which gives teachers and principals bonuses.

The budget deal, finalized Tuesday, includes $2,500 retention awards for “highly effective” teachers and $1,000 bonuses for “effective” teachers.

Lawmakers also agreed to increase the bonus amount for principals from $3,500 to $5,000.

All school districts would get a minimum of $100,000 to spend on the program for the upcoming year.

The plan falls short of the $423 million DeSantis wanted for the program to help recruit and retain teachers, but the governor accepted the outcome.

“Once the ink is dry on this, we want to look even more deeply on how we can best compensate people so we are bringing in some bright minds to the profession,” DeSantis said.

Throughout the legislative session, Democrats argued teachers should be given salary increases, not bonuses. They argued teachers need steady income rather than a one-time influx of cash.

The new budget will take effect July 1.