Tampa Bay school employees feel left out by DeSantis’ proposal for teacher, principal bonuses

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla (WFLA) – Many Tampa Bay school employees and staff members are feeling left out after Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent announcement proposing $1,000 bonuses for all public school principals and full-time Pre-K through 12th grade classroom teachers.

“It is simply unacceptable that just part of a staff of a school would be recognized and the other people would be ignored,” said Nancy Velardi, president of Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association.

DeSantis said the funding for the bonuses would be $216 million from the third round of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). 

If approved by the Florida Senate and House of Representatives, the proposal would provide a bonus to more than 3,600 public school principals and nearly 180,000 full-time classroom teachers.

“I think its pitting one group against another and I don’t think it’s equitable at all,” added Veraldi.      

8 On Your Side spoke with the president of the Florida Education Association, who said no one should be ignored.

“It takes a village. It really does. There are so many people involved in our schools to keep kids safe and keep the learning going. And we shouldn’t leave anyone out,” FEA President Andrew Spar said.

Both organizations tell 8 On Your Side the decisions on how the money is should be left to the individual school districts.

“It’s not the governor’s money. It is federal money. It’s not the state’s money, it’s federal money that was sent to the school districts for the districts to decide,” added Spar.

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