DeSantis proposes $216 million be set aside for teacher bonuses a year after start of pandemic

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference Wednesday afternoon at a school in Pinellas County, where he announced that he is asking the Florida legislature to approve setting aside $216 million from the ESSER Fund to go toward bonuses for principals and full-time teachers at public schools throughout the state.

If approved, principals and Pre-K through 12th grade teachers would each receive a $1,000 bonus with the third-round funds provided to the state from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

“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 legislature is currently in session and the governor said he expected his proposal to be approved and that the bonuses would be quickly distributed.

During the news conference, DeSantis praised the state’s handling of opening schools during the pandemic, saying Florida is only one of a handful of states where 100% of parents have the option of sending their children back to school, adding that he has the support of the majority of school superintendents in the state.

The governor said ESSER Funds are also being distributed at the local level and he urged local leaders to do even more for educators in their communities.


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