DeSantis proposes $1,000 bonus for Florida teachers, principals

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday proposed a $1,000 bonus for public school principals and full-time classroom teachers for grades Pre-K through 12 who have been apart of a historic and challenging school year.

“The past year included so much uncertainty for our state’s students, parents and educators,” DeSantis said. “In Florida, we knew how important it was for our students to return to school, and our principals and teachers answered the call. I urge the Florida Legislature to join me in awarding our great educators through this bonus program as a show of gratitude for their actions and hard work.”

The proposal would provide a bonus to more than 3,600 public school principals and nearly 180,000 full-time classroom teachers. Funding for the bonuses would be $216 million from the third round of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER), funds that were passed by Congress in response to the pandemic.

DeSantis is asking the Florida Senate and House of Representatives to include this $216 million appropriation in their respective budgets.

The state’s largest teachers union said it’s a reward that teachers deserve.

“We support money for teachers and school staff, as almost all have put in extra time and their own personal resources to keep kids safe and learning during Covid,” said FEA President Andrew Spar. “They transformed the learning system in March of last year and then again in August as we reopened. Recommending a $1,000 bonus for some school employees continues the governor’s strategy of picking winners and losers in our schools. It takes a village to educate Florida’s children.”

But Spar added that all educators deserve fair salaries that take into account and reward their years of experience.

Earlier this month, DeSantis pitched plans to use nearly half of the money coming to Florida from a federal stimulus package to address statewide issues and provide first responders with $1,000 bonuses for their work during the past year.