Best & Brightest Update

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2019-2020 Changes to Best & Brightest

How is the Best and Brightest award different in 2019-2020?   As part of Senate Bill 7070, all of the previous requirements for Best and Brightest were scrapped, and the program now has three components, Recruitment, Retention and Recognition. Only the Recognition portion of the award is subject to collective bargaining.

Recruitment will be a one-time bonus of up to $4000. Award is for newly hired K-12 classroom teacher who is a “content expert” in mathematics, science, computer science, reading or civics.” Neither the term “newly-hired” nor “content expert” are defined by law, however the DOE has provided some definition for “content expert” in guiding documents which can be found online.

Retention K-12 classroom instructors who meet the following criteria are eligible:

Rated Highly Effective ($2,500 bonus) or Effective ($1,000 bonus)

  • Taught in the same school for two consecutive years (including the year the award is made)
  • Taught in a school that “improved an average of three percentage points or more in the percentage of total possible points achieved for determining school grades over the prior three years.”

Recognition

The Recognition bonus is to be paid out with whatever funds are remaining after the recruitment and retention bonuses have been allocated. All K-12 instructional staff, including paraprofessionals, who were rated Effective or Highly Effective for 18-19 are eligible.

The law does not provide criteria by which the principals are to select teachers but does require school boards to adopt policies to determine the criteria: these criteria are negotiable.

Has DOE written any guidance on how or when the Best and Brightest money will be distributed? The FL DOE has published two documents (in the form of FAQ’s) offering guidance on the bonus program. Both can viewed online at http://www.fldoe.org/about-us/best-brightest.stml

How much money has been allocated for the award statewide? For my county?

Overall, the state has allocated $284,500,000. Hernando’s allocation is $2,232,997.

Best and Brightest Monies are now a categorical within the FEFP. Though the state reports to have increased K-12 funding with this year’s budget, much of the funding comes in the form of categoricals which largely cannot be negotiated for salary improvements.


Things to remember when talking bonuses:

  • Teachers and school staff need salary increases they can count on, not bonuses.
  • The Best and Brightest program is not working as its designers claimed it would. Our teacher vacancies continue to grow, and the number of new teacher-education graduates entering Florida classrooms is shrinking.  Since the program was first implemented, the gap between teachers needed and teachers hired has grown by approximately 25% each year.
  • Changes to Florida’s bonus program won’t solve the teacher shortage.
  • Educators can’t count on a bonus when applying for a home loan or qualifying for low interest on a car loan.
  • They can’t budget their families’ finances on whether or not the Legislature will give them a bonus one year and not the next, and bonuses are not counted towards teacher retirement.