Florida teachers may miss bonuses after being warned they violate COVID funding rules

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Florida’s plan to use COVID-19 relief funding to provide $ 1,000 bonuses to nearly 180,000 educators could be at risk, after the Biden administration warned the proposal went out of the way whose money is supposed to be used.

The US Department of Education sent Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran a letter last week saying the bonuses included in the budget Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed last month appeared not to be. follow federal guidelines.

DeSantis had touted the increases as a bonus for reopening schools that had been closed during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Florida Department of Education has received the letter and is reviewing it,” said Jason Mahon, spokesperson for DeSantis. News week in an email. “It is surprising that the US Department of Education suggests that a disaster relief payment of $ 1,000 is not ‘reasonable or necessary’ given the dedication Florida teachers have shown to keep schools open, allow in-person learning, and recover lost learning throughout the school year. “

According to the Associated Press, Deputy Federal Under Secretary Ian Rosenblum wrote in the letter that the increase in wages must be “reasonable and necessary” and added that the relief money for schools is intended to remedy the loss of learning during the pandemic and to focus on students.

The $ 1,000 bonuses for 180,000 teachers and 3,600 principals became a major budget priority for DeSantis this year, with the legislature ultimately allocating them $ 215.7 million from Biden’s stimulus funds.

DeSantis, who saw his national political profile rise as he pushed to reopen Florida after COVID-19 closures, visited the state in May to tout the $ 1,000 bonus payments, even posing with a check giant.

“We are proud of the dynamic teacher compensation we have and we are proud of these $ 1,000 bonuses for principals and teachers. We think when schools are open, when people work hard and put children and families first, you know, we want to reward that sacrifice, ”DeSantis said at a press conference in May.

As DeSantis touted the bonuses, Florida Democrats have given the Biden administration credit for providing the money to fund them.

“Do not let [DeSantis] & the [Florida GOP] take credit for it, “Sarasota County Democrats tweeted on May 26.” Funding for these teacher bonuses came directly from [Biden]American bailout, which all Republicans in Congress voted against. “

News week contacted the Florida Department of Education and the US Department of Education for comment, but did not receive a response until publication.

US President Joe Biden alongside Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (left) during a briefing in Miami Beach, Fla. On July 1, 2021. Biden flew to Florida on Thursday and met DeSantis after the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South building at Bord de mer,.
SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images


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