DeSantis signs teacher pay increase into law

HIALEAH GARDENS — At a press conference on June 24, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that will provide funding to school districts and allow them to raise the average minimum salary for teachers. The bill contains $500 million dedicated to raising teacher salaries in Florida. Of that $500 million, $400 million will be used to raise the minimum base pay for full-time classroom teachers, and $100 million to raise the salaries of Florida’s veteran teachers and other instructional personnel.

“COVID-19 has interrupted our students’ and teachers’ academic year in unprecedented ways,” said Gov. DeSantis at the signing. “Our teachers stepped up and found ways to keep our students learning and engaged these last few months to ensure students continued to receive the best education in the nation. They taught classes virtually; they made sure lesson materials were delivered; they committed to their students. Great teachers are what our students need as they re-enter the classroom in the fall, and that’s why this remained a major priority in our budget. Florida was previously 26th in the nation for teacher pay, and this announcement puts us in the top five, an over 20-spot jump in one year that reflects a historic investment in teacher compensation.”

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran was at the signing and thanked Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for their work on the bill.

“This historic legislation will continue to empower our teachers and foster lifelong success for our students,” said Commissioner Corcoran. “Florida educators stepped up for their students through COVID-19 and once again proved Florida is the best state in the nation to get a world-class education. Nothing can understate the important role that high quality teachers play in ensuring that these efforts were successful. I believe that every student, regardless of their zip code or family circumstances, should be afforded the same opportunities to succeed in the classroom. That starts with a great teacher.”

The Florida Education Association expressed its gratitude to Gov DeSantis for signing the legislation.

The bill also eliminated the “Best and Brightest” bonus program. The program, which offered bonuses to public school teachers and principals, was the last in a string of failed bonus programs the state had initiated to attract teachers to Florida.

The $500 million teacher salary allocation is for the upcoming school year. The raises will still have to be negotiated between local teachers unions and school districts throughout the state. The amount of money each school district will receive from the $500 million will be calculated based roughly on enrollment.

Gov. DeSantis set a goal of every teacher in the state making at least $47,000. Many districts won’t receive enough of an investment this year to reach that minimum salary, however. But the goal remains to get teachers up to that level within the next few years.

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