More money for teachers hailed
Teachers returning to their jobs at public schools and charter schools will be met with pay increases that will boost the average minimum salary for Florida teachers from 26th in the nation to fifth in the nation, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday.
DeSantis made the announcement at Mater Academy Charter School in Hialeah Gardens, stating that he would sign the bill into law.
DeSantis said $500 million will be given directly for teacher salaries. Part of those funds include $100 million for the more experienced teachers who make more than the minimum.
DeSantis said the pay increases were a challenge to do since the state’s fiscal picture is now different due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What were looking at now in terms of the budget that will be enacted July 1st is just a different picture,” he said. Though the budget hasn’t been finalized, DeSantis promised the funds will be there for the salary increase. “This will be there 100%. We’re going to have to make tough choices but this is important,” DeSantis said.
Lee County School District Chair Mary Fischer said the salary boost for the starting wages of teachers will be “quite a significant boost” from their current level of approximately $40,000.
“We’re very enthusiastic and hopeful that it comes through,” Fischer said of the funds signed into law by Gov. DeSantis. “We think there is a renewed appreciation for the work our teachers and staff do.”
Fischer said the DeSantis proposal to raise the minimum salary as well as boost the income of more experienced teachers “will help us not only recruit new employees but retain the ones we have.”
Fischer said the district is working on a reopening plan through its pandemic task force and said she encourages the public to give input on how the district should reopen by emailing reopeningschools@Leeschools.net.
“We are looking for input as we explore the options available,” Fischer said.
“Hopefully by doing something like this it’s going to entice some more people who may be young and thinking about what they want to do to think about going into teaching,” DeSantis said. “It sure makes it easier if you have a good minimum salary and are able to make ends meet so we think it’s important, one, just to reward the people who are working hard but two, to really to help to recruit good people for generations to come.”
During the press conference, DeSantis made a few comments about the increasing COVID-19 cases in the state. DeSantis said people should avoid closed spaces with bad ventilation and to avoid crowded spaces.