LEE COUNTY, Fla.- It’s your money and some Lee County teachers will pocket an extra $10,000 this year. But first, they have to apply for the bonus, by providing their own ACT or SAT scores.
The state announced last month, it will give teachers up to $10,000 bonuses as part of the new budget, and not everyone is happy with the deal.
The bonus only works if you are rated as a highly effective teacher and scored within the 80th percentile on your SAT or ACT, no matter how long ago.
“I can’t think of another profession, that goes back to the work you did in high school to validate what you are doing today,” said Lee County teacher and Golden Apple recipient Sara Kohlhauff.
She says she’s confused by the bonus.
“This is a bonus based on what a teacher did in high school, not even as a certified teacher, as a high school student preparing for college. that just doesn’t make sense to me,” said Kohlkauff.
Another teacher emailed the newsroom saying ,”this is a waste of the taxpayer’s money and every citizen of Florida should be outraged!”
But the plan also allows teachers to take the test now.
WINK News heard from several teachers who say they are already studying and will retake the act in September. But an education consultant in Lee County says scores may not come back in time.
There are also questions about how easy it will be to get old records. The deadline for teachers to apply is October 1.
While Kohlhauff applauds teachers who are taking the chance, she thinks the $44 million set aside for this bonus program could be better spent.
“How about we just not bonus and give teachers a living wage?” said Kohlhauff.
The Florida Legislature established Florida’s Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program to reward Florida’s teachers who have been evaluated as highly effective and who have earned college entrance exam scores that indicate they were exceptionally well prepared for college level coursework.
The proposal didn’t make it through the Republican-led Senate during the legislature’s spring session, but it rose from the dead in a June special session, winding up in the 2015-16 Florida education spending budget.