After the Biden administration warned that the Florida plan to use COVID-19 relief funds to give $1,000 bonuses to almost 180,000 educators may be in danger, the proposal is not within the proper scope.
Last week, Richard Corcoran, the Florida Education Commissioner was notified by the U.S. Department of Education that the bonuses in the budget Florida Governor Ron DeSantis passed into law last month seem to be outside of federal guidelines.
DeSantis had referred to the raises as a bonus in reopening schools which had been closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is quite surprising that the U.S. Department of Education would suggest a $1,000 disaster relief payment, given the dedication teachers have shown in Florida to keep schools open and allow for in-person learning,” Mahon wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
According to the Associated Press Ian Rosenblum, federal deputy assistant secretary wrote that an increase in pay must be “reasonable” and necessary. He also stated that relief money for schools was intended to help students and address learning losses during the pandemic.
DeSantis made the $1,000 bonuses for 180,000 teachers, and 3,600 principals a top priority in their budget this year. The Legislature allocated $215.7 millions of Biden’s stimulus money to them.
DeSantis has seen his national profile rise since he worked to reopen Florida after the COVID-19 shut downs. He toured the state in May, touting the $1,000 bonus payments, even posing with a huge check.
We are proud of the momentum in teacher compensation and the $1,000 bonuses for principals, as well as for teachers. DeSantis stated during a May news conference that teachers and principals should be rewarded for their hard work and dedication to the children and families.
DeSantis has praised the bonuses. However, Florida Democrats credit the Biden administration with providing the money to fund them.
On May 26, Sarasota County Democrats tweeted, “Don’t allow [DeSantis] and the [Florida GOP] claim credit for this,” “The funding for these teacher bonus payments came directly from [Biden]’s American Rescue Plan, which every Republican in Congress voted down.”
Newsweek reached the Florida Department of Education as well as the U.S. Department of Education to get their comments, but did not hear back before publication. DeSantis’ office did not respond to our request for comment.