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$1,000 stimulus checks for educators: who is getting them and when?

The federal government appears unlikely to pass a fourth stimulus check anytime soon but some states have offered bonus payments for teachers and school staff.

The federal government appears unlikely to pass a fourth stimulus check anytime soon but some states have offered bonus payments for teachers and school staff.
Michael loccisanoAFP

Throughout the pandemic many frontline workers have been tasked with trying to continue in difficult circumstances, often putting themselves at greater risk to ensure certain essential services can continue.

Teachers are certainly among this group; juggling in-person and online teaching sessions, contending with erratic schedules and going into work while most people were advised to stay at home. To show appreciation for their efforts some states have passed legislation proving a one-time stimulus check for educators, often termed a ‘thank you’ or hazard pay bonus.

Which states have already distributed a stimulus check for teachers?

Last October the state of Michigan set aside $73 million in federal funding to provide hazard pay for teachers and support staff in schools as part of a deal struck between Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state legislature.

In February teachers were awarded ‘MI Classroom Heroes Grants’, which provided a $500 bonus for all teachers and $250 for other school staff.

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This was followed by a similar effort in Georgia as the state approved a $1,000 retention bonus in March. Roughly 230,000 K-12 public school teachers and staff were eligible for the payments, which were aimed to boost recruitment and retention after a tough year, as well as a show of “gratitude for their work and sacrifices during the covid-19 pandemic.”

Funds for the Georgia payments came from the American Rescue Plan, which provided the state with $660.6 million from the federal government. The total cost of the teachers’ payments is thought to be around $230.5 million.

Which states will pass the next teachers’ stimulus checks?

Around the same time that the Georgia legislature approved the educators’ payments, Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed a similar programme in Florida. The proposal was passed in March but it wasn’t until June that the state’s budget was approved and the payments could begin. The DeSantis has said that he expects the payments to go out to teachers when the new school year begins.

Around 175,000 teachers and 3,600 principals in Florida will receive a $1,000 ‘thank you’ bonus from the state. Controversially however, roughly 120,000 other members of staff in schools will not be included in the scheme which is estimated to cost the state $216 million, also paid for with funding from the federal government.

Florida’s Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said of the programme: “The Governor’s proposal is just one way we can show our appreciation to our hard-working teachers and principals who guided Florida through these immense challenges, and I look forward to the Legislature making it a reality.”


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