State Sen. Rob Bradley weighed in Wednesday on the progress lawmakers are making on teacher compensation.
“The feedback I’ve received, and many of my colleagues have received, from the districts around the state is that the bonus program has not worked as it was intended,” he said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing setting the minimum public teacher’s salary at $47,500, at a cost of $900 million. He said his plan will cover about 100,000 teachers statewide, draw more college students into the profession and help retain current educators.
DeSantis also wants to replace the Best and Brightest bonus program with another initiative he said was more generous and equitable. He said his concept would focus on teachers and principals working in low-income schools, with bonuses up to $7,500 for teacher and $10,000 for principals.
The Governor has said he’s encouraged by House Speaker Jose Oliva’s comments about addressing teacher pay. The House Education Committee has found about $246 million in existing resources for teacher pay raises. Bradley said the Senate is certainly looking at using $288 million he believes the state could repurpose for salaries from eliminating the Best and Brightest program.
“And then I would certainly anticipate we would do more than that to address the salary increase issue for teachers,” Bradley said. “I’m thankful that the governor has used the bully pulpit to shine a light on that very important issue.”
Bradley said state lawmakers will also address waitlists for services with the Agency for People with Disabilities.
Republican State Sen. Aaron Bean of Jacksonville is sponsoring legislation (SB 82) that places services for people with disabilities in the hands of outside vendors. APD has been running over its budget for more than a decade. Bean’s bill requires that support coordinators, the people who are the liaisons with the families of disabled people, be contracted out and be hired by at least two vendors in each region of the state.