The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has questioned Governor Desantis’ $1,000 teacher bonus for educators returning to the classroom for the upcoming school year.
According to the Associated Press (AP), the USDOE sent a letter to Florida Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran, that claimed the approved bonuses do not fit the federal eligible guidelines.
On May 26th, DeSantis announced the bonuses on Twitter with the statement, “Schools in Florida are open, and we are saying thank you to our hard-working teachers in the classroom by giving them $1,000 bonuses and raises.”
A press release from DeSantis’ office on the same day included a comment by DeSantis that said, “Thanks to the tireless efforts of our teachers and school leaders, Florida succeeded where so many other states failed. I can’t thank them enough for their hard work and dedication during this school year and these bonuses are a small way to say thank you on behalf of our state.”
According to the AP, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the USDOE, Ian Rosenblum, expressed the notion that the enhanced pay for teachers using disaster relief funding must be “reasonable and necessary,” while also insinuating that the allocation of funds are meant to support academic programs rather than teachers.
In an email sent to the AP by Florida Department of Education Spokesperson, Jason Mahon wrote, “It is surprising that the U.S. Department of Education would suggest that a $1,000 disaster relief payment is not ‘reasonable or necessary’ given the dedication teachers in Florida have shown to keep schools open, allow in-person learning and recover lost learning the entire school year.”
In addition to the bonuses, on July 2nd, Governor DeSantis signed the ‘Florida Leads’ budget that will provide $22.8 billion for K-12 education. Approximately $550 million will be allocated to teachers in an attempt to raise the minimum teacher salary in Florida to $47,500.
Rosenblum and the USDOE will continue to work closely with the FDOE in order for the payments to abide by federal law. If the bonuses are approved, it will add an additional $215 million to the budget, allocating approximately $765 million to support Florida teachers.
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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]