Ron DeSantis touts teacher bonuses as Florida COVID pandemic school ends
As one of the toughest school years Floridians have ever experienced draws to a close, Gov. Ron DeSantis visited the state on Wednesday to tout $ 1,000 bonuses for teachers and principals who juggled them. challenges of educating students during the pandemic.
DeSantis has said he will soon sign the 2021-22 state budget which includes bonuses for education professionals, first responders and correctional officers.
“We’re proud to have gotten the bonuses,” DeSantis said at an event in Baker County. “We understand that this was a unique set of circumstances that a lot of our schools had to go through.”
DeSantis held a press conference at Baker County Middle School in Macclenny near Jacksonville and is expected to host another event later today at Sarasota School of Arts & Sciences.
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Wednesday was the last day of teaching at Baker County Middle School. The Baker County School District was one of the first in Florida to open its doors and was taught in person for the 180 days of the school year.
Baker Middle School principal Tom Hill said it was an “extremely difficult journey”. He credited the “heroic efforts” of teachers and other school employees, and noted that the school ends the year without a student in quarantine.
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced last July that he was ordering schools to open schools for in-person instruction next month, a move that has attracted significant criticism. at a time when COVID-19 cases were reaching record highs in Florida.
Schools have made efforts to put safety measures in place, while ensuring that families who were not comfortable sending their children back to class can benefit from distance learning.
Some teachers found themselves with hybrid classrooms that included in-person and online learners, a stimulating experience.
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Within months, however, there was a bipartisan push across the country to reopen schools, and Florida looked less like a special case than a leader.
DeSantis accused critics of the school’s reopening and the media of “inciting fear” and attacked “dumb experts” who questioned the wisdom of Florida’s approach last summer.
“We really thought we had to get through all the storms and all the nonsense and be with our parents and our students,” he said on Wednesday.
In addition to funding the bonus payments, Florida lawmakers included another $ 550 million in next year’s budget to fulfill the governor’s pledge to raise the minimum wage for teachers to $ 47,500.
The proposed budget for K-12 education 2021-22 includes an average for school districts of $ 7,795 per student, an increase of $ 39, one of the smallest increases in recent years.
DeSantis examines the proposed $ 100 billion budget as it weighs the elements to oppose. The budget is supported by $ 6.6 billion in federal funds for pandemic relief.
Follow Herald-Tribune political editor Zac Anderson on Twitter at @zacjanderson. He can be reached at [email protected]