Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie says Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ proposal to raise starting teacher pay in the state is welcome.
But Runcie says more needs to be done to ensure experienced teachers earn a bump in pay as well.
Runcie made the comments Tuesday at the first meeting of the Broward Legislative Delegation under the leadership of Chair Shevrin Jones, a Democratic House member and Vice Chair Perry Thurston, a Democratic state Senator.
Runcie spoke about the proposal from DeSantis, released Monday, to direct $603 million toward boosting starting teacher pay in the state to $47,500 a year.
Runcie addressed the Broward delegation about the School Board’s priorities for the 2020 Legislative Session and commented on the Governor’s plan.
“Teacher pay, of course, remains a big issue,” Runcie began, noting that the Governor’s proposal would “help many teachers here in Broward and across the state.”
But with that praise came a caveat.
“However, we hope the conversation expands to include increasing compensation for all teachers in Broward and throughout the state and not just at the entry level,” Runcie added.
Runcie’s comments echo remarks from Florida Education Association President Fed Ingram, who called the starting pay raise proposal a “beginning” and pushed to include a pay raise for experienced educators as well.
Runcie said his desired plan to achieve higher base teacher pay would be by boosting the base spending per pupil at the state level.
“That gives districts the flexibility to invest in teacher salaries,” Runcie said of a potential allocation boost.
According to the most recent numbers from the Florida Department of Education, just over $7,300 of state and local funds were spent per student during the 2017-18 school year. Another $583 dollars per pupil of federal money was also available.
It’s unlikely an all-around boost would gain much traction this Session. Indeed, the starting salary proposal is being viewed somewhat skeptically by DeSantis’ own party-mate, GOP House Speaker José Oliva.
“I am in receipt of the Governor’s statement regarding teacher compensation as I am of the over $2 (billion) of new spending requests from his agencies,” Oliva said in a statement Monday, making an effort to point out the extent of the Governor’s proposed spending boosts.
“The legislative process will properly vet these among all other state concerns. My initial thought is one of gratitude for those who came before us and saw it fit to bind us and all future legislatures to a balanced budget.”
But that starting pay proposal isn’t all the Governor and his allies have proposed.
Joining DeSantis for his Monday announcement were Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican.
Runcie did not comment on that program on Tuesday.