Local educator says governor’s $300M bonus grant won’t solve teacher shortage

Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to grant $300 million for teacher bonuses, but a local education leader we spoke to told us it won’t provide a solution for the teacher shortage in the state.

“It’s clear bonuses don’t solve the problem,” said Kevin Daly, the president of teachers association of Lee County.

Daly said he doesn’t like when the state grants bonus to school faculty overall.

“With a bonus, you never know if you’re going to get it from year to year,” Daly said. “You certainly can’t use those monies on a mortgage application or a car loan.”

Meanwhile, DeSantis is slating the teacher bonuses for the state budget on top of the $600 million proposal to boost teacher salaries. The governor’s plan would reward teachers and principals, as a school’s performance improves based on grades.

Educators who served predominately low-income families could earn a double bonus. Daly said this leaves other school staff members out of the bonus pool though.

“A lot of people don’t know pre-k teachers don’t qualify for these bonuses,” Daly said. “And adult-ed teachers and some school-based personnel, who still impact and better students’ lives in Lee County for the better, don’t qualify.”

Daly said this is the sixth or seventh bonus program. The previous ones have not solved the teacher shortage in the state.

“We would prefer the money be given to Lee County to negotiate salaries for each employee,” Daly said.

But the state legislature and DeSantis make the final decision.

In a statement, the president of the Florida Education Association echoed what Daly said.

“Teachers and all school employees should be paid fair, competitive salaries,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram. “Our educators do not want another bonus scheme, especially not one built on the back of a flawed school grading system. Bonuses don’t help you qualify for a mortgage; they can’t be counted on from year to year. We know that all too well here in Florida, where adjusting the current bonus plan is almost an annual event.”

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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