Tallahassee Reports has confirmed with the Leon County School Board that a state audit has determined that approximately 20 teachers received bonuses that must be returned.
The bonuses range from $5,000 -$10,000. The total amount expended by the error that occurred in 2017 was expected to be around $120,000.
The bonuses were part of the statewide program called the Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program which was implemented during the second half of 2015 after it was approved by the Florida Legislature during an earlier special session.
The program’s goal is to reward teachers deemed “highly effective” by disbursing “scholarships” in one-time payments.
To receive the bonuses, a teacher had to rate as “highly-effective” in their most recent evaluation. The teachers also had to score in the 80th percentile on college entrance exams in the year the teacher took the exam.
The error occurred when Leon School officials mistakenly submitted teachers for bonuses who were rated “effective”, not “highly-effective.” The audit caught the error and the district was required to return the bonus money to the state.
However, the teachers have already received the bonuses. Now the district is in the position of having to seek the return of the money from each teacher.
A similar issue came up in Gulf County in 2015. The district was forced to return in excess of $200,000 and seek recovery from teachers.
The Star in Port St. Joe reported that as of April 2017, “there remained just over $192,000 ultimately disbursed from the general fund and never repaid.”