DeSantis pledges $600M for teacher pay raises, $1,000 bonuses next year

Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference at a Jacksonville school. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday unveiled sweeping education proposals for next year’s budget that would include millions of dollars for teacher raises along with $1,000 bonuses for Florida’s teachers and principals.

Speaking at Jacksonville Classical Academy, a public charter school in Mixon Town, DeSantis said he will ask the legislature to budget $600 million to go toward teacher raises and bring back $1,000 bonuses for classroom teachers and principals similar to the ones the state handed out last year amid the pandemic.

“Our goal is to increase, particularly, the average minimum salary in the state of Florida so we can continue to attract great people into the teaching profession,” DeSantis said.

The Republican governor said the proposals will be a part of his budget recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year and will be presented to the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature.

“We’ve done an awful lot since I became governor. We’ve invested in increasing teacher pay, we’ve invested in early learning, we’ve expanded school choice, we’ve invested in vocational, technical education, and we really want to be able to keep that momentum going,” DeSantis said.

Last year, DeSantis signed a bill to raise the minimum teacher salary to $47,500 and provide other raises at a cost of $500 million despite state revenue plummeting because of the coronavirus. The raise was about $10,000 more than base pay in the 2017-18 school year when teachers were starting at just over $37,600.

The proposal for another round of $1,000 bonuses would provide extra money to more than 3,600 public school principals and nearly 180,000 full-time classroom teachers. Funding for the bonuses last year was $216 million and came from the third round of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER), funds that were passed by Congress in response to the pandemic.

Additional proposals from DeSantis include:

  • Increase per-pupil funding to $8,000
  • Increase base student allocation (BSA) by $124
  • $421 million for school safety and mental health initiatives
  • $500K to expand access to Florida civics and debate initiative
  • $534 million to support workforce education program

DeSantis said he will be rolling out more details about the proposed fiscal year 2022-23 budget in the coming weeks.

Last year’s budget was a record $101.5 billion, an increase of 10% from the year before.

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Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.