JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We’re learning how much money local school districts will get from the state for teacher salaries, a pool of money that includes an extra $250 million this year. It’s part of the new state budget lawmakers passed this month.
Clay County’s superintendent said that while the new money will help the district, it needs to do more than just boost pay to address an ongoing teacher shortage.
Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Clay County earlier this month to announce a $250 million dollar budget increase in funding for teacher salaries, bringing the total funding for salaries, to $800 million.
Here’s a breakdown of the more than $80 million going to local school districts:
Clay County schools superintendent David Broskie said the money will go a long way toward helping teachers in his district, especially veteran teachers who may have felt left out after the district raised starting pay to $47,500.
He says the legislation was adjusted to allow districts to spend a bigger share of the money on veteran teachers, rather than only on new teachers.
“What that’ll do is that’ll enable us through negotiations, to be able to divert more of those funds towards our veteran teachers,” Broskie told News4JAX.
But Broskie said preventing a shortage takes a three-step approach.
“You have to recruit teachers, you have to retain them, and then you have to keep them for a long period of time, through a work environment and compensation package which befits the importance of teachers in our society,” he said.
Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association (FEA), the state’s largest teachers union, says there are still issues that need to be addressed when it comes to teacher pay.
“The increased investment in funding for our public schools is very much appreciated by lawmakers. Unfortunately, what they didn’t do was address the incredible amount of rules and regulations that govern teacher pay, in fact, over 20 different rules and laws that govern teacher pay, and most of them impact, in a negative way, teachers who have been teaching in our district for five years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years or more,” Spar said.
According to FEA’s estimates, there will be 9,000 teacher vacancies in the state by the end of the year and just 2,000 college students in Florida will graduate with teaching degrees.
“That’s a gap of 7,000 teachers right there. We’ve got to do things differently. It’s about respect It’s about respect first and foremost, and respect is shown in the way you pay people,” Spar said.
It will be up to individual school districts and teachers unions to negotiate exactly how much money goes to veteran teachers and other school staff.