Congress may not be willing to send another round of stimulus checks, but one group of people will possibly be receiving one more stimulus payment. Teachers in several states are set to get one-time coronavirus stimulus checks of up to $1,000.
As part of the American Rescue Plan, which was approved in March this year, state and local governments got $350 billion in aid. Much of this aid is likely for schools and universities, and now, many states have decided to use some of the aid to make a stimulus payment to teachers.
This stimulus payment to teachers and other school staff is being called a "thank you" bonus. This thank you payment is an effort by the state governments to show appreciation for the work of the teaching staff during the pandemic, as well as to retain the teachers and staff.
However, some, including parents, are questioning if this thank you payment is the proper use of the funds. Others also believe that the U.S. Department of Education guidance on how to use the federal money, may not allow such bonuses.
The U.S. Department of Education has already questioned Florida over its decision to use Covid-19 funds to pay bonuses to teachers.
Which States Are Sending "Thank You" Payments?
Many states are giving out this thank you bonus, including Colorado, Texas, California, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. More states are expected to approve similar payments as they have until 2024 to spend the stimulus funds.
In Georgia, about 230,000 K-12 public school teachers and staff are expected to get this bonus. This "thank you" or "retention" bonus is estimated to cost Georgia $230.5 million. Georgia got about $660.6 million in federal funds.
In March, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made a similar proposal to pay educators. The proposal was part of the budget, which was approved last month. Such bonus payments will cost the state about $216 million.
Michigan has sent a bonus payment to teachers. In February, the state sent a $500 payment to teachers and $250 payment to staff as part of the “MI Classroom Heroes Grants” plan.
Separately, the Berkeley Unified School District in California is expected to set aside $2.8 million of its funds for thank you payments. This thank you payment would include a 1% pay raise, as well as a 3.5% bonus for the incoming school year.
Hawaii was also planning to send $2,200 stabilization payments to teachers. However, the legislation was vetoed by the state's Democratic Gov. David Ige, who reportedly argued that lawmakers don’t have the authority to direct the state’s Education Department over the use of the federal funds.