Teacher in her classroom. Photo by Dave Einsel/Getty Images
The Legislature carved out a hefty $800-million for pay hikes for Florida’s public school teachers, but veteran teachers may or may not get a fair deal, and some starting teachers may not get $47,500 — a starting-pay initiative pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to educators and union leaders.
Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, told the Phoenix that it is unlikely that every district will get to that goal of $47,500, even with the increased funding in the 2022-23 state budget approved by lawmakers.
“Keep in mind, you have districts like Miami, where the cost of living is significantly higher, meaning they were closer to the $47,500 to begin with,” Spar said. “And then you have a district like Gadsden County, just outside of Tallahassee, where they were significantly far behind, one of the lowest paying in the state, and so they had a much greater area to go.”
Meanwhile, on the issue of veteran teachers, the FEA has been concerned that experienced teachers are not seeing similar increases like those given to new teachers as part of the starting pay initiative.
“It is impossible to increase the pay of experienced teachers at a rate that even keeps up with the pay increases that have been given to new teachers,” Spar told the Phoenix.
The $800 million in the state budget includes:
/$550-million. It would go towards maintaining teacher pay raises from the past two years. Of that amount, most would be for the starting pay initiative, to bring new teachers to a starting salary of $47,500. That is considered a goal.
/$250 million. Half of that would go to continuing the starting salary initiative. The other half would be a flexible situation, such as more money for starting salaries or veteran teacher pay hikes or other school personnel boosts.
At a press conference Wednesday, DeSantis claimed that “We’ll highlight this a little more in depth in the coming days and weeks, but we did the biggest increase for teacher salaries in the history of the state of Florida in this year’s budget, I mean it’s a really big deal.”
Back in November, DeSantis called for a $600 million teacher pay initiative for 2022-23, but that figure increased during the 2022 legislative session.
Spar told the Phoenix that while there are still concerns with the $800 million funding, the proposed budget approved by the House and Senate is “significantly better than what Gov. DeSantis was looking for.”
DeSantis will have to consider the education initiatives in the state budget before any funding goes into effect. The governor has the power to veto parts of the budget, though he’s signaled his support for the $800 million.
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