TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Governor Ron DeSantis held several press conferences in schools across the state Wednesday to echo two strong sentiments: to open up schools completely this fall and to provide teachers with a little extra cash following this past transformative school year.
DeSantis visited the Sarasota School of the Arts & Sciences and announced a proposal he made in March will be coming to fruition sometime next week when he signs the new statewide budget.
The governor said public school principals and full-time classroom teachers for grades pre-K through 12 will be receiving $1,000 bonuses.
“We’re proud of getting these $1,000 bonuses, we’re proud to be able to continue to make a difference on teacher compensation,” he said. “Thank you to the principals, thank you to the teachers.”
Educators at Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences were incredibly grateful.
“This is truly something we will hold as a treasure forever beyond just the stuff that you are bringing to us financially, but just to be involved and hear your guys’ support of education, it really touches you as a teacher,” said 21-year educator Kevin Corwin.
While the bonuses are a step in the right direction to support Florida teachers, many Tampa Bay school employees and staff members still feel left out.
8 On Your Side’s Allyson Henning asked the governor if the bonuses would also include additional essential staff members such as other administrative roles, custodian employees, bus drivers, and more.
“We’re not slicing and dicing cause it’s just, at the end of the day, most teachers came (back), there was very few that didn’t when you look at most of these districts,” DeSantis said. “All classroom teachers in any public schools, that’s the school districts and the charter schools, both of them all included. And then every principal, school districts as well as charter schools. It’s about 175,000 total individuals that will be getting the bonus.”
The governor did state, however, if there is money left over, it could be distributed to other teachers.
DeSantis said the funding for the bonuses would be $215 million from the third round of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER).
In addition to the bonuses, the state is looking to elevate the minimum teacher salaries to $46,000. According to the governor’s office, 68 of Florida’s 74 school districts, which equates to 92 percent, now have a starting salary of $40,000 or higher.