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FDE: $1k bonus checks not for all FL teachers

Teacher creates national database of Covid-19-related school closures
Posted at 3:23 PM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 15:24:53-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Florida Department of Education recently clarified the planned $1,000 payments to school employees come with state-supplied complications for those who receive them, and for their districts.

Not all teachers who worked through the pandemic will receive bonus checks touted by Governor Ron DeSantis.

Teachers who retired or resigned before June 2 are ineligible, as of course are support staff. Included in that group are bus drivers, paraprofessionals, food service workers, custodians, office staff, and mental health experts such as school counselors, psychologists and social workers,

Florida’s entire educational village pitched in over the past 15 months to keep students safe, supported and learning. All those people — teachers and support staff — deserve recognition for their hard work during an unprecedented and difficult time. Instead, state government has once again picked winners and losers in our public schools, awarding federal Covid “relief payments” to PreK-12 classroom teachers and principals while leaving out the support staff who are also essential to our students’ success. - A statement from the Florida Education Association said.

“This could have been a simple process with the money going straight to school districts,” said FEA President Andrew Spar. “Districts are the employers. They know how to pay their people and can do proper tax withholding. Instead, the state wants to issue the checks. That slows down the process and forces districts to scramble to send employee information to the Department of Education. It also means that educators who get the payments may be on the hook for taxes normally withheld by their employers. That’s a lot of trouble just so the state can get credit.”

DeSantis previously praised Florida educators for returning to brick-and-mortar instruction at the start of the 2020/21 academic year while many states remained in distance learning only.

“If the governor wants to show that he values educators, these relief payments should have been handled differently,” said President Spar. “What’s happening appears to show how little regard he has for the work of our teachers and staff over the past year.”

DeSantis said the state is giving $1,000 bonuses to every police officer, firefighter, EMT and paramedic in Florida.