The American Rescue Plan package set aside money to distribute to Americans struggling to pay their rent or mortgage, and to parents needing help with their child care costs.
Additionally, the bill sent $350 billion in assistance to state and local governments. A lot of that aid will be going towards schools, making sure they are safe, but some states and cities are using the cash earmarked for schools in another way – they are handing out $1,000 stimulus checks to the staff as a thank you for their efforts during the pandemic, when they were forced to adapt to remote teaching.
In Georgia, nearly every school teacher and staff member, including bus drivers and cafeteria workers, will be getting the bonus, which will cost the state about $200 million – 35 percent of the coronavirus stimulus money they were sent. Florida will hand out $1,000 to 170,000 teachers, and in Berkeley, California, teachers will be getting a bonus valued at 3.5 percent of their salary.
It’s a welcome sight for many school employees, but it’s also caused a lot of anger. In Florida, the 130,000 school employees who aren’t teachers are upset they aren’t getting the bonus. Meanwhile, parents are questioning the use of money, which they think should go to help students perform better in math and science. One mom told the Wall Street Journal, “I’m the last person to say ‘don’t pay teachers.’ However, it should come from the appropriate bond.”
Teachers in Tennessee and Colorado will also be receiving bonuses, and other local governments will likely approve similar packages in the months to come – they have until 2024 to spend the stimulus money they were sent from the American Rescue Plan.