School teachers protest for higher wages at a Miami-Dade School Board meeting. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
The Florida House is advancing a $650 million teacher-pay package for the new school year, which is $150 million higher than the Senate proposal for the 2020-21 state budget.
Rep. Chris Latvala, the Clearwater Republican who heads the House Pre-12 Appropriations subcommittee, said Wednesday that $500 million of the $650 million “salary enhancement supplement” will go toward raising starting teacher pay in the state to $47,000.
The proposal is closely in line with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call to raise starting teacher pay to $47,500.
The $47,000 figure, on average, would still be the second highest starting salary of the 50 states, based on 2017-18 data from the National Education Association. New Jersey’s average of $51,443 is the highest. However, California’s average of $46,992, would be about tied with Florida, if the state House figure uses $47,000 in its analysis.
Latvala said the remaining $150 million in the pay package could be used by the school districts to increase salaries for veteran teachers.
The House teacher-pay plan is more robust than the Senate’s proposal, which has earmarked $500 million for higher pay, with Senate leaders saying the $47,500 goal will be reached over a period of several years.
Neither the House nor the Senate have any funding for a bonus program for teachers or principals. Both chambers support ending the current “Best and Brightest” bonus program.
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