TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The $1,000 bonuses for Florida teachers and principals are on their way, some teachers have already received their checks.
Along with the checks, reportedly postmarked on Aug. 3, 2021, Florida teachers received a letter from Gov. Ron DeSantis, acknowledging the challenges the state faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and stating that the state has put students and families first.
The letter goes on to thank teachers for the efforts, without whom the state’s efforts “would not have been possible.”
Still, the money for the bonuses is costing more than just the checks themselves, and it appears that those receiving the bonuses will still have to pay federal income taxes for them, bringing the actual amount they can use down to about $700.
“Total funding available to implement the teacher and principal relief payments is $183.6 million provided from the state educational agency’s portion of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA),” state officials told wfla.com in correspondence from before the checks were distributed. “This is comprised of $179.5 million from ARP ESSER’s Administrative and Discretionary funding and $4.1 million from CRRSA ESSER.”
Use of the ESSER funds in this way was greenlit by the state legislature through SB 2500, the $101.5 billion General Appropriations bill.
WFLA.com reached out to the Governor’s Office for confirmation of the distribution date for the bonuses to teachers and first responders, both of which were marked out in the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget.
According to the budget passed by lawmakers and signed by DeSantis, “These funds are provided for the department to provide full-time classroom teachers, to include certified prekindergarten teachers funded in the Florida Education Finance Program, and principals in district schools and charter schools and the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind with a one-time bonus of $1,000.”
An additional $3,519,100 was appropriated in the budget for the department to administer the program.
The state budget says “the nonrecurring sum of $208,437,342 from the General Revenue Fund is appropriated to the Department of Economic Opportunity to distribute a one-time bonus payment of $1,000 to each essential first responder.”
Funding for similar bonuses intended for the state’s first responders are coming from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund, instead of ESSER, according to a spokesperson from the Governor’s Office.
According to the budget for the sake of the payments to first responders, the following professions qualify for the bonuses, “An individual who is a first responder is considered an essential frontline worker in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and employed by a state or local government who is a sworn law enforcement officer, emergency medical technician, firefighter, paramedic, Institutional Security Officer, Chief, Specialist, or Supervisor of the Department of Children and Families or Agency for Persons with Disabilities, or Department of Corrections’ Certified Correctional Officer, Certified Correctional Probation Officer, or IG Inspector.”