Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is giving public school teachers and principals in the state $1,000 bonuses as a reward for returning to classrooms following pandemic closures.
The governor announced the bonuses at a news conference in Baker County Wednesday and said the funds have been approved by the Legislature. The final step is for him to sign the state budget, which he expects to do soon.
“We’re proud of the teacher compensation momentum we have, and we’re proud of these $1,000 bonuses for principals and for the teachers. We think that when the schools are open, when people are working hard and putting the kids and families first, you know, we want to reward that sacrifice,” DeSantis said. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran attended the announcement.
About 174,000 teachers will be receiving the bonus checks, as will more than 3,600 public school principals.
“Schools in Florida are open, and we’re saying thank you to our hard-working teachers in the classroom,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter Wednesday, alongside the announcement.
He said he hopes to sign the state budget within the next couple of weeks, as there are many provisions to go through.
“Hopefully, we can turn that around over the summer. We’re working hard on it,” he said. “It’s a lot of checks, so we got to do it right.”
The $1,000 for teachers and principals comes from $216 million from a third round of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, according to DeSantis’ website.
In late March, the governor asked the Florida Senate and House of Representatives to include the $216 million in the budget in order to fund the $1,000 bonuses.
DeSantis and Corcoran both expressed their appreciation to teachers who went back to work amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Last summer, we really felt strongly that every parent in Florida needed the ability to send their child to school in person,” DeSantis said during the news conference.
“Now, everyone says the kids should be at school. That was not the case then,” he added.
He criticized schools across the country that have kept their doors closed to in-person learning.
“I asked the Legislature to step up to the plate, recognize a job well done and authorize bonuses of $1,000 for every principal and classroom teacher throughout the state of Florida for school districts and for public charter schools,” DeSantis said. “I am happy to report they answered the call.”
He added that more than 100,000 members of state law enforcement, as well as first responders, will also be given $1,000 bonuses.
Newsweek reached out to DeSantis’ office for further comment but did not hear back before publication.