Many Americans are waiting anxiously for Congress to approve another round of stimulus checks, but for now, it is just one specific group that is set to get another stimulus payment. Several states have approved a one-time coronavirus stimulus check for teachers as a token of appreciation for their contribution during the time of the coronavirus pandemic.
Different states are calling this one-time stimulus check for teachers by varying names. For instance, some states call it a "thank you" bonus, while some call it a "hazard pay" or "retention bonus."
Michigan was the first state to distribute such bonuses to teachers. In October, the state set aside $73 million in funds to give hazard pay to teachers and support staff in schools. In February, the amount was finally distributed under the "MI Classroom Heroes Grants." All eligible teachers got $500 in payment, while other school staff got $250.
Georgia was the next state, approving a $1,000 retention bonus in March. The payment from Georgia covered about 230,000 K-12 public school teachers and staff. Such payments would cost the state about $230.5 million. Georgia got $660.6 million under the American Rescue Plan, and it plans to use some of these funds for distributing bonuses to the teachers.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also proposed a similar payment in March, but it got approval only last month. DeSantis expects the payment to go out when the new school year starts. Florida’s program is expected to cover about 175,000 teachers and 3,600 principals.
Florida will also use the funds it got from the American Rescue Plan to pay $1,000 thank you bonuses to teachers. The payments are estimated to cost the state about $216 million.
Which States Are Sending 'Thank You' Bonuses?
According to the Wall Street Journal, Tennessee, Texas, and Colorado have also approved thank you bonuses for teachers and staff. These states are expected to dole out $1,000 to teachers.
More states are expected to come up with similar payments as they have until 2024 to spend the funds they got from the federal pandemic stimulus spending programs. For instance, the Berkeley Unified School District in California plans to use some of the federal funding to give a one-time 3.5% bonus to teachers, as well as a 1% pay raise (likely from a separate fund).
Hawaii was also planning to send a bonus payment to teachers. However, the proposal was vetoed by Governor David Ige. The legislation proposed sending a $2,200 one-time "stabilization payment" to educators, and would have cost the state around $29.7 million.
Even though most are in favor of sending such payments, some also question if giving such payments is the best use of the funds. Moreover, some also believe that giving payments to teachers breaches the Education Department guidelines over the use of federal funds.