Polk County has $9.9 million on hand in state teacher compensation money from Tallahassee that I would like to pay to my employees in recurring salary increases. It is not part of the collective bargaining Sophie's Choice between flat raises or health care spikes that has just been negotiated with a different $10 million.
This is the so-called "Best-and-Brightest" bonus program, perhaps the stupidest, least effective teacher recruitment/retention program ever passed by any government. It's the one that started as a reward to teachers for high SAT/ACT high scores because...reasons. And last session, your legislators -- Kelli Stargel and company -- actually made that worse by limiting who will receive it and making the formula utterly incomprehensible and arbitrary.
Tallahassee completely dictates how "Best and Brightest" money is used; but for accounting and political purposes, they sent it down to local districts this year so they could claim they gave us more money to help compensate employees. It's a typically cynical political move, devoid of any sense of shared responsibility. But that's who they are.
"Best and Brightest" is so dumb and so ineffective that it's already a dead bonus walking. Powerful Republican Senator Gus Bradley has already filed a bill to repeal it this coming session. Your legislature spends half its time repealing its own counterproductive stupidity in education. Over and over and over again.
Anyway, divided among all 13,000-ish employees, this "Best and Brightest" $10 million would mean a $700 recurring raise for every employee. If limited to teachers, as the bonus is targeted, it would mean a $1,521 recurring raise for all teachers.
So, today, I'm calling on Gov. DeSantis and Kelli Stargel and Chris Latvala and the whole crew of "reform" comrades to stop acting like late stage Soviets, so desperately clinging to a dead ideology. Time to let Jeb go as your Lenin. (And Corcoran as your Stalin.)
Tear down this stupid wall.
Hold an emergency vote, today, that allows districts to opt-out and use that money for salaries. So easy. Show us you give a damn.