TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed for teacher bonuses, not pay raises, in his first budget earlier this year. But he now appears to have had a change of heart.
Florida is expecting 24,000 new students next fall. The Department of Education told lawmakers last week it needs new tools to attract more teachers.
“We’re gonna need about 8,000 new teachers over a five-year period,” said Deputy Commission of Education Suzanne Pridgeon.
The governor is now promising to do away with teacher bonuses.
“It was very complicated and I don’t want it to be that complicated,” said DeSantis.
The governor is instead seeking a pay raise. How much of a raise is yet to be determined.
“We are going to do something significant on teacher recruitment and compensation,” said DeSantis.
The Florida Education Association has said for years that bonuses don’t work.
We asked what the organization thinks would make a raise significant.
“Something in the line of a 10 percent increase. We think that’s a good start,” said Martin Powell with FEA. “We’ve had a couple of decades in dis-investment.”
With the average teachers salary just over $48,000, Florida still ranks 46th nationally.
Powell said even 10 percent won’t produce much of a bump.
“We are at the very bottom of per-pupil spending. We are down in the basement and we have almost the highest per capita income coming into the state. So we are trying to get us to the middle, and 10 percent doesn’t begin to do that. Ten percent gets us up a couple notches,” said Powell.
And because of the existing teacher shortage, what many parents don’t know is that often their child class is being taught by an uncertified long-term substitute teacher.
The governor says he will release his teacher pay raise and recruitment plan in about a month.
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