School recognition funds go to Florida schools today
Months after Florida's elementary and middle schools learned their state grades, the Department of Education has distributed school recognition funds to those that improved or made an A.
The $110 million fund was delayed because of holdups in completing grades for the state's high schools, which were announced in January and had all appeals resolved about a week ago.
Schools were required to submit their plans for the money by Feb. 1 even though they didn't know exactly how much they would get. Otherwise, the funds would be split among teachers only.
Most of the schools have chosen to use the funds for one-time bonuses for all their staff members who worked there during the year the grade was earned. One Hillsborough school -- Knights Elementary -- chose to use all its money for instructional materials. A handful of others put 10-20 percent of their money into supplies or temporary staffing.
This year, Florida lawmakers have talked about ending the recognition funding and putting the money elsewhere in the education budget. The Senate has proposed moving the funds into extended day programs, while the House has recommended increasing the amount back to $100 per student at the awarded schools. In recent years, it has decreased to $70 per student.
Philosophically, many teachers have expressed an interest in seeing the recognition funds mined back into the education general budget to benefit all school employees. Not so much on a practical level.
"In these tight economic times with no raises, I would be hard-pressed to find a teacher who objects to getting an additional $700-$1,000," said Lynne Webb, president of the United School Employees of Pasco, whose district will get $2.8 million in the funding. "Since most of the schools do vote to provide them as one-time bonuses, I think most people would be very upset to have them taken away."
See the school by school recognition fund breakdown attached below.