TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Governor Ron DeSantis wants to reward tens of thousands of teachers and principals who have made countless sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at Palm Harbor University High School on Wednesday, DeSantis said he's asking the Florida Legislature to approve $216 million to give $1,000 bonuses to all public school principals and classroom teachers for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
"Our Florida teachers and school principals have put students' success first throughout the course of the coronavirus pandemic," DeSantis said.
The governor said nearly 180,000 full-time teachers and more than 3,600 principals would receive bonuses.
The money would come from the state's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER), which is part of the federal CARES Act.
DeSantis is asking the Florida Legislature to approve the funding during its current legislative session so the bonuses can be distributed as quickly as possible.
"As teachers, we need to continue the race that we signed up for. We signed up to do this. We cannot control the weather, we can't control our circumstances, but we can continue to push through, find joy," said Sarah Painter, the Pinellas County Teacher of the Year.
The proposal by Governor DeSantis builds on other teacher compensation initiatives he and his administration have undertaken. Last year, Gov. DeSantis called for and secured a $500 million investment to raise the minimum salary for teachers, and his Florida Leads budget recommendation for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 includes an additional $50 million to continue raising the minimum salary for Florida’s teachers.