‘COVID attacked us, teachers fought back’: Gov. DeSantis presents teacher bonuses in St. Pete

DeSantis 8.3.21
The bonuses are intended to show appreciation to educators for working throughout the pandemic.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared at Lakewood Elementary School Wednesday morning to promote $1,000 bonus checks that will start hitting the bank accounts of all full-time teachers and principals statewide.

The bonus checks, part of an initiative to improve teacher compensation, cost $216 million in federal COVID-19 relief dollars allocated in the 2021-22 state budget. It’s part of an initiative to improve teacher pay, which in 2020 included $500 million to increase salaries for new and veteran teachers, with an additional $50 million added in 2021.

The bonuses are intended to show appreciation to educators for working throughout the pandemic.

“We understand it’s not something you’re going to necessarily get rich off of, just like law enforcement, but it does help to be able to provide some better incentives,” DeSantis said. “We think that that’s something that is really important. We’re going to continue supporting that.”

The bonus roll-out comes as the school year starts back up again across the state and will be directed to the state’s 175,000 full time teachers and 3,600 principals. The Legislature also approved a similar bonus initiative for first responders, including paramedics, fire rescue and law enforcement.

During his presentation at the St. Petersburg elementary school, DeSantis touched on the struggles school districts faced last year, juggling reopening amid the pandemic. School districts, including Pinellas County, grappled with the requirement to open in-person schools with the concern of spreading COVID-19 at a time when vaccinations weren’t available.

“We really believe that what was done last year, by having the kids in-person, is going to have probably as lasting of an impact as you can have, because the alternative of them not being able to access in person learning — I think we’ve seen through other parts of the country — would have just been totally catastrophic,” he said.

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, joining DeSantis Wednesday, continued to emphasize the importance of face-to-face instruction. Corcoran faced heavy criticism from teachers unions last year for reopening in-person schools.

“Despite what the rhetoric was, despite the noise, they came because they wanted to be with their students, and they wanted to impart that great education,” Corcoran said about the previous school year. “We could all go back to work because our kids were in school, and they were in that great environment. And so really, when you look at it from a state standpoint, the economy, everything — COVID attacked us and our teachers fought back.”

This year, the Governor and his administration are facing a different battle with schools amid the ongoing pandemic — masks.

Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees signed a rule Friday requiring schools to let parents or guardians “opt-out the student from wearing a face-covering or mask,” along with guidelines for COVID-19 symptoms, positives and exposures.

The State Board of Education also released a proposed emergency rule after Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered a prohibition on mask mandates in schools last week. DeSantis is facing pushback from parents of children with disabilities, who are suing over the required opt-out option.

“We believe this is a decision for the parent to make just given the uncertainty about what it means, particularly for a lot of the young kids to be in that,” DeSantis said.

During the conference, DeSantis, along with Pinellas County Superintendent Michael Grego, also applauded Lakewood Elementary, which boosted its school grade from an F in 2019 to an A in 2021.

Grego also announced that all employees with the Pinellas County School District will be receiving the $1,000 bonus, made possible by the state teacher bonus initiative.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


17 comments

  • Tom

    August 11, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    Wonderful job Governor.

    • tjb

      August 12, 2021 at 8:45 am

      Tom, where did the money come from?
      It came from the American Rescue Plan Act, legislation passed by the Democrats and voted against by Republicans. The governor never once directed thanks to those who made this possible.” You should be saying “Wonderful Job Joe Biden”.

      • Tom

        August 12, 2021 at 9:42 am

        Hardly. The WH said you can’t do it.
        Go fly a kite. Only His idea, you Dums think you own everything. Please!
        Nikki Fraud called him Pres DeSantis last Eve. First thing she ever said correctly. LMAO.
        America’s Gov by 10 pts.
        All you Manchurians read my reply to Joe H earlier.
        Btw, where all you been since the fondler resigned. LMAO.

        • Tjb

          August 12, 2021 at 10:04 am

          Again, Tom, you are making up information , not facts, to support your lies and BS. What does this BS make you to be?

  • Tom

    August 12, 2021 at 10:19 am

    Not at all pal
    Facts not fiction.
    You and your Manchurians bots are so insulated in your liberal cocoon. Mental.
    I stiff arm all of you.
    I suffer ManchurianS gladly,
    Specially that fool Alex.
    LMAO
    Stay up late and get up earlier with me.
    Read my two for Joe H.

  • Tom

    August 12, 2021 at 10:23 am

    Again. Cuomo, Newsom, Whitmer and Northam
    Corrupt Dem Govs. In order The fondler, recall, can’t garden And black face.

    • Tjb

      August 12, 2021 at 10:31 am

      Tom, where did the money come from? Please stay on topic and I do not need to read what ever comments you had about Joe H. I am sure it will be frivolous BS. Again, where did the money come from that DeSantis gave to the teachers?

      • Tom

        August 12, 2021 at 11:25 am

        Don’t you ever tell me what I can discuss.
        From taxpayers you dimwit!
        WhT is this crap from you manchurians. We owe you nothing.
        I pay taxes.
        Go scratch! You need to read much more. You dimwits are fools.
        How are your corrupt Dem Govs doing? LMAO Go fondle!

        • tjb

          August 12, 2021 at 11:40 am

          Tom, the DeSantis minion, do you understand how government works? The money came from the American Rescue Plan Act that the Dems passed in Washington and the Republicans legislators voted against it.

          • Tom

            August 12, 2021 at 11:59 am

            You are an idiot! And you just proved it. What a moron. That’s as self serving example as I ever heard.
            You ha such a false sense of understanding. Period

  • ScienceBLVR

    August 12, 2021 at 11:37 am

    Another thing to mention, the 3.2 million Ron DeVirus paid a company to mail the checks to teachers so he could include a letter with his name on it, again, trying to take credit for the money Congress appropriated for COVD relief. And he cut out everyone else who helped the students learn this year. Thank you to PCS and Dr. Grego for paying for those folks. He could have transferred money to PCS without paying millions, but then wouldn’t have been able to take credit.. I wonder how many books you can buy with 3.2 mil What a maroon!

    • Tom

      August 12, 2021 at 12:04 pm

      Talks about morons!
      Ignorant and stupid you are sci fi guy!
      LMAO.
      DeSantis himself, America’s Gov has raised teachers pay and provided bonuses! He could have directed dollars with legislature towards other allowed efforts. Fact is WH said no. He didn’t! Leadership!
      Liberal scream incoming.

      • tjb

        August 12, 2021 at 1:13 pm

        Tom is making up lies again. What a bot.

        • Tom

          August 12, 2021 at 2:13 pm

          Tjb, not one at all. None

        • Tom

          August 13, 2021 at 6:27 am

          Tjb, ignorant, stupid and a liar.
          Trifecta winner. Well done.

  • ScienceBLVR

    August 12, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    Sorry, Tom, it was “What a maroon”, not moron, although both monikers fit Rube DeathSantis. Sorry, he didn’t raise teacher pay for 95% of teachers- only new hires and being a teacher, I would know. Also, he and Ed Commish Dick CoConuts are trying as hard as possible to take money away from schools and give to private, religious, charter or any of their frat bros who wants to open up a tax payer hog trough..
    In the future, try to debate when you gain a bit of knowledge

    • Tom

      August 12, 2021 at 2:23 pm

      So ignorant you are.
      The Florida charter schools is one of the untold reasons he won. He campaigned on expanding and he has significantly. You are a moron Manchurian bot. Minority voters supported that. My goodness.
      Stand with America’s Governor not the garbage. You and Tjb are pathetic.

Comments are closed.


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