It’s early in the process, but members of the Florida House education panels have begun to dive into the issue of raising teacher pay. This past October, Governor Ron DeSantis announced his plan to increase the minimum teacher salary across the state. DeSantis submitted a 2020 budget proposal that would raise the pay for more than 101,000 teachers in Florida to a minimum of $47,500.
He announced his proposal during a visit to a Middleburg High School in Clay County, where he was joined by Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran and Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley.
According to the National Education Association, Florida ranks 26th in the nation for starting teacher pay at $37,636. Adding the proposed $600 million would move Florida to second in the nation in starting teacher pay.
Numerous teachers have raised the point that a change only to the minimum base salary could mean that new hires would make as much as many underpaid veteran teachers.
Jillian Vincent, a teacher associated with the union at Parkway Middle School in Lauderhill, Florida, said this proposal could cause friction between districts. “You know, I have been teaching for eight years, and they would have a starting salary higher than mine,’’ she said.
It’s no secret Florida has a problem keeping teachers in the classroom due to the lack of pay. DeSantis’ proposal could be part of the solution. “I’d like to expand the pool of college graduates who would consider teaching, this is one way that you can do it,” DeSantis said.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions, but also high hopes in regard to this proposal. The state’s legislative session convenes January 14, 2020. Teacher pay will likely be among the first things discussed.