A bill setting up a process to boost teacher pay in the state is headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ desk Wednesday.
The legislation (HB 641) allocates money to each school district based on their share of funds from the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP). A proportional share of that money will also be sent to charter schools to help teacher salaries as well.
In October, DeSantis pushed for a $600 million package to boost starting teacher pay in the state to $47,500.
Budget negotiations at the close of Session fell short of that number. Lawmakers agreed to set aside $400 million for starting teacher salaries, plus another $100 million to raise the pay of veteran teachers. That money will now be distributed based on that FEFP breakdown.
That split developed after some advocates worried veteran educators would be left out of the starting salary increase. Several districts throughout the state have starting salaries well below $47,500, meaning teachers with years of experience have still not hit that salary in some places.
The final compromise aims to help teachers of all experience levels, rather than just those starting out. However, some lawmakers raised concerns the bill still leaves veteran teachers behind.
“I’m conflicted because we could have done better,” said Sen. Kelli Stargel, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.
Superintendents and charter school administrators will submit their respective pay raise plans to their local school board for approval. The Department of Education must also sign off on those plans.