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July 9, 2021

Florida has other options for teacher bonuses, even if U.S. nixes first plan, experts say [Orlando Sentinel]

This post was last updated on September 29, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Leslie Postal writes:

"Though told last week that its education bonus plan would run afoul of federal rules, Florida still could give teachers and principals $1,000 awards, if it paid them from another pot of COVID-19 relief funds, not the one it initially identified, budget experts say.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education told the state its plan to use nearly $216 million in federal money to pay bonuses to classroom teachers and principals did not appear allowable. Most of that money, the department said in a letter, should go to help with students’ 'learning loss' and not for 'premium pay.'

But Florida likely could use other federal relief money — the same fund that will be used to pay $1,000 bonuses to first responders — to give similar awards to school employees, said Holly Bullard, chief strategy and development officer for the Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added].

'There’s opportunities to shift gears,' she said."

Read more on orlandosentinel.com

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