COMP NEWS – Several states are considering using federal stimulus cash to pay out one-time bonuses to public school teachers.
Dozens of school districts and states are spending big chunks of their historic federal stimulus cash on one-time bonuses to teachers and staff, over the objections of some parents and others who claim such payments violate the intent of the federal funding.
Georgia was the first state to act, signing off on $1,000 statewide bonuses to 230,000 school-level employees, covering nearly every teacher and staff member, including aides, custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria workers. The move cost $230.5 million, or about 35% of the state’s $660.6 million federal coronavirus stimulus money, and was one of the state’s biggest expenditures from its allotment of the stimulus funds.
While Georgia went forward with its plan, other states that have entertained the same idea have seen mixed reactions and debate on both the necessity and constitutionality of such a plan.
But there are limits on teacher bonuses. For instance, the Education Department is pushing back on how Florida has planned its payments, which might force the state to rethink how to handle them.
In a June 30 letter, the Education Department said Florida’s intention to spend $215 million on $1,000 bonuses to teachers and principals might conflict with federal rules, as the state had planned to pay the bonuses using stimulus funds earmarked for learning loss.
In Hawaii, a proposed bill to provide teachers with a $2,200 bonus was vetoed by the governor, out of concern the compensation would not comply with federal guidelines.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige this month vetoed a bill that proposed giving teachers a $2,200 bonus, saying allocating the funds toward teacher compensation doesn’t comply with federal guidance. He said he doesn’t intend to seek other ways to give bonuses to teachers.
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