MACCLENNY, Fla. — After a trying year of navigating the classroom during a global pandemic, teachers and principals in Florida are set to be rewarded with $1,000 bonuses.
Gov. Ron DeSantis confirmed the payments, which he had previously proposed, Wednesday morning at Baker County Middle School in Macclenny.
“When the schools are open, when people are working hard and putting the kids and families first, you know, we want to reward that sacrifice," DeSantis said.
DeSantis later scheduled similar news conferences at the Sarasota School of the Arts & Sciences and Destin Elementary School.
The governor was using Wednesday's events to double down on his decision to open schools and allow for face-to-face learning in Florida. He said that scientific evidence supports that it's safe for kids to be in school, adding that he thinks other states should follow suit.
"Had we closed the schoolhouse doors, had we not let the kids in, the damage that would’ve done. You could be the best teacher in the world, the best principal in the world, the best superintendent in the world. I don’t think we would’ve been able to recover from that," DeSantis said Wednesday.
"You’re gonna see lasting damage in other parts of the country for people who didn’t do the right thing."
The $1,000 bonuses are included in the state's budget and will go into effect once it's signed by the governor.
DeSantis also mentioned his previous efforts to raise the base pay for teachers in Florida. He signed a bill in June 2020 that raised the minimum teacher salary to $47,500 per year.
Florida Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran, joined the governor in Macclenny Wednesday. He echoed DeSantis' message about keeping schools open in Florida, calling the continued closure of in-person schools in other states "criminal."
Watch the full press conference below.
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