How much will each local school district get for teacher raises? Here’s a breakdown
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.
Amid revenue uncertainty, Florida lawmakers wade into budget
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida lawmakers dove into debating a state budget Wednesday amid uncertainty over how the ongoing pandemic will affect the next round of revenue projections and the state's bottom line. DeSantis initially proposed a $96.6 billion budget, which he later sought to augment with $4.1 billion in additional spending drawn from the relief funds. The House includes some of the federal money in its $97.1 billion proposal, while the Senate’s $95 billion spending plan does not. The Senate and House budget proposals both reflect no tuition increases for public colleges and universities. AdThe House budget outlays $32.4 billion for the Medicaid program, which serves 4.6 million Floridians — about a fifth of the state’s population.
Florida must focus on students’ progress after disruptive year, teachers union says
“We have to recognize that, although our teachers and staff in our schools have done amazing work, it’s not been without disruption,” Spar said. “Kids have been quarantined, teachers have been quarantined, staff has been quarantined, and that has created disruption.”“The big thing now is focusing on, how to we build and make sure that kids are getting everything that they need? Since it first arrived in Florida, the novel coronavirus has infected 80,682 students and staff associated with a school district, according to the FEA’s Safe Schools report. Overall, 146,793 kids in Florida who are school-aged (K-12) have tested positive for the virus since schools first reopened Aug. 10. The pandemic has claimed the lives of 40 Florida educators and nine school-aged children since schools reopened.
GOP lawmakers propose new rules for Florida’s teachers unions
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Republicans are taking aim at public sector labor unions with two bills passed through a House committee Monday. One of the measures specifically targets teachers unions by not allowing teachers to have their union dues deducted directly from their paychecks. AdUnder the bill, unions representing university and college employees would also have to meet the 50-percent threshold. One of the other union bills was also approved in the same meeting. It would require all public sector employees to reauthorize their membership every three years or any time their contract is renegotiated.
Gov. DeSantis denounces new CDC school guidelines
New CDC guidance establishes four designations for school reopening based on case rates over the past seven days. DeSantis denounced the CDC guidelines saying special interests are being put ahead of science. I don’t know of any school district that’s doing regular testing and contract tracing to stay ahead of it,” said Spar. DeSantis also scoffed at the Biden Administration’s plan to include $100 billion for safely reopening schools in a federal relief package. DeSantis was clear in his message: In Florida, schools will stay the course and continue offering in-person learning so long as he’s in charge.
Appellate court upholds Florida’s school reopening order
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Florida appellate court has sided with the state in the lawsuit aimed at overturning the requirement for schools to reopen in-class learning. “It was about local control.”The appellate court not only said the teachers union had no standing to bring the suit but also rejected its arguments against the state’s order. And they would have had their funding adjusted the way it would be adjusted under any other normal year if they didn’t offer brick-and-mortar classrooms,” said Andrea Messina, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association. School boards are taking the study with a grain of salt. “We believe the appellate court got it wrong, but we still believe the commissioner believes he can overstep his authority as an appointed bureaucrat and override locally elected school boards, elected by parents and community leaders.
Florida’s COVID data doesn’t match school districts'
It became apparent once the Department of Health released its data that the figures didn’t line up with those provided by school districts. As it turns out, that’s because the report used different data than districts when it comes to listing positive cases. While Duval County Public Schools reported 75 cases of COVID-19 from Sept. 6 to Sept. 26, the state reported 91 cases. A representative for the health department said the reason for the differences is that the agency independently collects its data through labs and its own efforts — not from school districts. For the most accurate picture on a day-to-day basis, education advocates recommend checking with your school district’s COVID-19 data dashboard.
Florida education commissioner, board member spar over COVID-19 data
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Wednesday criticized “union bosses” and said Florida has been a model for reopening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but a member of the State Board of Education defended leaders of teachers unions and called for better data about children infected with the virus. The exchange between Corcoran and Board of Education member Michael Olenick came as the state continues to battle the Florida Education Association teachers union in court about a reopening order and as school districts move forward with offering in-person and online classes to students. “When we opened up schools, you know what every teacher wanted to do, just like every student wanted to do? The unions argue that Corcoran’s order violated the Florida Constitution’s guarantee of “safe” and “secure” public schools because of the pandemic. I think we’re a model for the rest of the nation.”Olenick, however, questioned Corcoran about transparency in reporting COVID-19 cases involving students.
Florida’s largest teachers union calls for COVID-19 transparency, funding continuity
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Education Association sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday, pleading with the Republican leader to hold school districts' funding steady, despite many of them experiencing lower-than-expected enrollment. The union also demanded DeSantis promise that elementary and secondary schools will not see a decrease in state funds. The FEA’s president issued third demand during Friday’s press conference the data be published, as well as the details of how that reporting mechanism operates. News4Jax also contacted the commissioner of education for a comment on the FEA’s demands and his office issued a statement:
Clay parent wants answers after student exposed to COVID-19 on first day of school
CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – An Oakleaf High School freshman told News4Jax her first day of classes went pretty smoothly. She didn’t realize until later that her first day inside the school would also likely be her last as a freshman. “It was scary for us, and it was also upsetting because the school never contacted us.”As of Thursday, the Clay County school district was the only large Jacksonville-area school district not publicly disclosing COVID-19 data for students. The Duval County school district has a school-by-school breakdown of COVID-19 cases. The Nassau County School District is posting reported cases to its website.
Florida judge rejects putting schools ruling on hold
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Siding with teachers unions, a Leon County circuit judge Thursday lifted a stay of his earlier ruling that a state order requiring schools to reopen in August is unconstitutional. Ron DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and other state education officials of ignoring the Florida Constitution by requiring school districts to resume face-to-face instruction this month amid the coronavirus pandemic. Attorneys for Corcoran and DeSantis immediately filed a notice of appealing Dodson’s ruling to the 1st District Court of Appeal. Under law, that notice of appeal automatically placed a stay on Dodson’s ruling -- effectively putting it on hold until the Tallahassee-based appeals court can resolve the case. In Thursday’s order, Dodson scolded the state for misrepresenting his temporary injunction.
Judge sides with Florida teachers union, says districts should decide if schools should reopen
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. A Tallahassee-based judge sided with Floridas largest teachers union Monday ruling that Floridas blanket order to require schools to teach students in the classroom during the coronavirus pandemic is unconstitutional. Florida Education Association, the states largest teachers union, along with a number of other organizations filed a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and the state alleging reopening schools was unsafe. The judges decision comes after a weeks-long legal battle between the union and the state. In the judges decision, he said the ultimate purpose of the order was to provide guidance and permission for schools to reopen and he worked to preserve those elements.
Florida judge refuses to dismiss school closing case
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. A lawsuit by a union representing Floridas largest teachers union seeking to keep schools closed is still alive Friday morning. After hearing arguments from both sides in a virtual haring, Circuit Court Judge Charles Dodson denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Florida Education Association against Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Department of Education and Commissioner Richard Corcoran requiring in-person learning in all 67 counties by the end of August. The FEA is challenging whether that order is constitutional given that school districts are run by elected boards. We are Wuhan, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, FEA attorney Ron Meyer told the judge Thursday.
Duval County teacher resigns as schools begin reopening
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. A teacher at Neptune Beach Elementary School quit her job Wednesday when her hopes of her school reopening to virtual learning didnt happen. Jennifer Beebe said she has taught at the school since 2004 and loves the school. She said virtual learning seemed like an obvious choice to her and her colleagues to start the school year. When the state of Florida required schools to reopen buildings to students, Beebe said she couldnt go along with it. But the FEAs lawyers argue that schools risk losing funding if they dont comply with the mandate.
Florida teacher resigns as schools begin reopening
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. A Jacksonville-area teacher at quit her job Wednesday when her hopes of her school reopening to virtual learning didnt happen. Jennifer Beebe said she has taught at Neptune Beach Elementary School since 2004 and loves the school. She said virtual learning seemed like an obvious choice to her and her colleagues to start the school year. When the state of Florida required schools to reopen buildings to students, Beebe said she couldnt go along with it. But the FEAs lawyers argue that schools risk losing funding if they dont comply with the mandate.
Hearing set in Florida school reopening lawsuit
The Florida Education Association teachers union is challenging Corcoran’s July 6 emergency order requiring schools to reopen in August, unless state and local health officials say otherwise. The union alleges that Corcoran’s directive violates the state Constitution, which guarantees Floridians the right to “safe” and “secure” public education. Under Corcoran’s order, school districts outside of Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties risk losing state funds if they don’t open bricks-and-mortar classrooms. Dodson was assigned to the case this week, after Leon County Circuit Judges Angela Dempsey and John Cooper recused themselves. Florida deserves much better than confusing commands concerning life and death issues.”The union is also asking Dodson to expedite the case, slated for an online hearing Thursday morning.
Florida school reopening lawsuit sits in limbo
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – School districts began opening in-class learning Monday as the lawsuit filed by the Florida Education Association to delay classroom learning hangs in limbo. The order transferring the reopening lawsuit to the State Capital was issued last Thursday. The Florida Education Association, which filed the lawsuit, wants schools open — but safely. Late Friday, the Hillsborough County School District’s plan to start the school year with four weeks of online-only instruction was rejected by the state. “They brought together medical professionals from many of the area hospitals and asked them, is it safe to open schools,” Spar said.
Teachers march on Florida Governors Mansion over school reopenings
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Teachers from across Florida marched on the Governor's Mansion on Saturday over school reopenings. The teachers want schools to continue with virtual-only instruction until they feel it is safe to return to campus. Earlier this week, teachers were encouraged to contact their state and local leadership, to organize local protests and even to write their own obituaries. Teachers from across Florida marched on the Governor's Mansion on Saturday over school reopenings. (WJXT)In Northeast Florida, Baker and Bradford counties are set to begin school Monday and Union County will begin school on Wednesday.
Court case over reopening Florida schools delayed
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. The court case challenging the opening of brick-and-mortar schools is moving from Miami to Tallahassee. Dont rely on an ambitious order.With the case moving to the Capitol, its now clear some schools will reopen before this case is resolved. Ron DeSantis for weeks its not yet safe to open schools. We need to be agree on how to make schools safe, Meyer said. But Thursday, they chose to keep the case moving.
Florida teachers union & state spar over emergency order
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. With days until the school year begins in many Florida districts, lawyers are fighting to kill a statewide emergency order that requires all schools to provide an in-person learning option five days a week. The Florida Education Association, the largest teachers union in the state, and five other plaintiffs are asking a judge to halt the order through a temporary injunction and allow districts to move to full-virtual learning until they deem it safe to reopen. Ron DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the Department of Education and the Florida Board of Education. RELATED: Attorneys challenge state order requiring brick-and-mortar learning optionSince the lawsuit was filed, Miami-Dade Countys school district submitted its reopening plan to the FDOE, a plan that involves starting the school year with 100-percent virtual learning. The FEA lawsuit claims the order unfairly threatens to slash funding for any districts that dont comply.
Attorneys seek injunction to keep Florida from reopening brick & mortar schools in August
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Attorneys for the Florida Education Association on Tuesday night filed a motion seeking a temporary injunction to keep the state from forcing brick and mortar schools to reopen in August. The motion notes that as of Aug. 3, 2020, more than 38,000 Floridians under the age of 18 tested positive for the virus. It states that from July 16th to July 24th, there was a 23% increase in child COVID-19 hospitalizations. The plaintiffs argue that the governor cant force public school students and employees to return to school buildings. Here is a copy of the injunction:
Union disputes DeSantis claim teachers are chomping at bit to get back to class
Ron laid out why he believes schools need to re-open but also said parents need to have a virtual learning option. No parents should be required to send their child to in-person instruction if they dont want to, DeSantis said. But the idea of reopening schools for in-person learning isnt sitting well with the Florida Education Association, the states largest teachers union, which is actively suing to delay reopening brick-and-mortar classrooms. The union refuted DeSantis claim that educators are chomping at the bit to get back in their classrooms. But some teachers agree the benefits of going back to in-person learning outweigh the risks.
Parents & teachers named as plaintiffs in lawsuit against school reopening order
The lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade circuit court on Monday alleges that the order violates the state Constitution, which guarantees Floridians the right to safe and secure public education. Tragically, Florida, is now an international epicenter of the lethal and unforgiving novel coronavirus, the plaintiffs lawyers wrote. The education commissioner added that funding for school districts could be jeopardized if the unions complaint is successful. The lawsuit asks that schools be supplied with adequate personal protective equipment for students and employees. If students, teachers, educators and workers in education are rushed back into school without the safety precautions in place, the damage thats done will be irreparable and potentially, in many cases, fatal, he said.
Floridas largest teachers union to announce legal action on state reopening schools
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The Sunshine States largest teacher and education worker union, the Florida Education Association (FEA), is expected to announce legal action against the state of Florida over the education commissioners order to open school five days a week in August. Governor Ron DeSantis has supported the decision since the beginning, noting the President also wanted schools reopened in fall. In an interview with Fox News Sunday, FEAs president Fredrick Ingram said schools arent ready to open under current circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. A lawsuit has already been filed against Governor Desantis and top state and local education officials in Orange County. The lawsuit, filed by an Orange County Middle School teacher, calls to stop the reopening of public schools also citing coronavirus concerns.
Local control central to Florida’s plan to reopen schools
Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran released the state’s recommendations for school districts to open in the fall, and it has largely been received positively by education groups. Ingram said the key takeaway from the plan is that districts will be able to decide what works best in their area. FEA criticized the plan for its high emphasis on the economic need to return to school, saying that student health should be the top priority. And with the state seeing ten straight days with 1,000 new cases, a fall reopening is far from guaranteed. In the event schools must return to distance learning, the state plan recommends districts use some of the federal funding to ensure all students have access to adequate technology and internet connectivity.
State teachers union calls for consistency, inclusion when schools reopen
The states largest teachers union on Tuesday released its recommendations for local districts that are considering bringing students back to the classroom. Those guidelines call for Fairness, Consistency and Inclusion across all the school districts in the state. Less than three months before the first Florida students are slated to go back into our public schools. Finally -- Public School Investments, -- The FEA recommends waiving school fees and costs that might cut into enrollment. As we reopen schools, let us be safe, let us be healthy, let us understand academic success, let us not forget the most important work -- school must be fun," Ingram said.
Group looks to craft recommendations for return to classrooms
The 25-member task force will convene three times in the coming weeks. The groups goal is to include the voices of teachers, staff members and school administrators in the reopening conversation. The task force will focus on a wide variety of reopening topics including physical and mental health, student success, working conditions and financial investment in schools. The Department of Education has been in constant communication with educators, superintendents, parents and education stakeholders throughout the entirety of the COVID-19 crisis. The Governors Office and Department of Education said they both will consider the recommendations FEAs task forces produce.
Challenge to teacher unions law dropped
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Plaintiffs including the Florida Education Association have dismissed a lawsuit challenging a controversial 2018 state law that can require teacher unions to be recertified to represent employees. The law, which drew heavy debate during the 2018 legislative session, can require teacher unions to be recertified if fewer than 50 percent of the employees eligible for representation are dues-paying members. The Florida Education Association, unions in several counties and individual teachers filed the lawsuit in July 2018 challenging the constitutionality of the law. But Attorney General Ashley Moody's office, which defended the law for the state, disputed such arguments in a September motion for summary judgment. Dempsey wrote that the law did not violate collective-bargaining rights and pointed to the state's teacher shortage as a reason for treating teachers different than other employees.
Judge backs Best and Brightest' settlement
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A federal judge has given preliminary approval to a settlement that calls for the state to pay $15.5 million in a class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination in the controversial "Best and Brightest" teacher-bonus program. He will hold what is known as a "fairness" hearing in March, after which he could give final approval to the settlement. The lawsuit has focused on a decision by state lawmakers to partly base Best and Brightest bonuses on teachers' scores on SAT and ACT college-admission exams. Under the settlement, money will go to black and Hispanic classroom teachers who were rated as "highly effective" but did not receive Best and Brightest bonuses since the program took effect in 2015. The settlement creates a formula for determining the amount of payments to black and Hispanic teachers who are eligible.
Florida teachers union seeks massive increase in school funding
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Education Association (FEA) is on the road this month trying to drum up support for a big pay hike for teachers, better classroom maintenance and more music and art classes. In addition to touring the state, the teachers are calling for a massive rally at the Florida State Capitol on January 13, the day before the legislative session begins. In 2009, thousands of teachers brought more than two million pennies as they pushed for a sales tax increase for schools. Governor Ron Desantis has proposed increasing starting teachers salaries to $47,500, but the teachers union said they need $1 billion more to give every teacher a raise. According to the National Education Association, average teacher pay in Florida currently ranks 47th in the nation.
Florida House looks for ways to boost teacher pay
However, Latvala was hesitant to endorse a repeal of the controversial "Best and Brightest" teacher bonus program, which received $233.9 million in funding in the current year's budget. But Diaz added that if the bonus program is repealed, it would free up a lot of money that could be used somewhere else. The Florida Education Association, a statewide teachers union, has said it is encouraged by DeSantis' focus on teacher pay, but it also has raised questions about how the plan would help retain longstanding teachers. Florida ranked 27th in the nation for average teacher starting pay during the 2017-2018 school year at $37,636, according to the National Education Association. The state's overall average teacher pay in 2017-2018 topped $48,000, but educators have long called for higher salaries as Florida has ranked near the bottom nationally.
Florida Education commissioner predicts teachers will carry guns in 10 years
ORLANDO, Fla. - Floridas Education Commissioner is making some surprising statements about arming teachers. Corcoran was a speaker at the Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition meeting on Sept. 9. In addition to showing his support for arming teachers, he also suggested doing away with school resource officers. News4Jax's sister station in Orlando, WKMG, obtained the audio minutes taken during the Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition meeting earlier this month. "In 10 years, every single school in the state of Florida will have guardian teachers," Corcoran said.
Approval sought for Best and Brightest' settlement
The settlement stems from a long-controversial decision by lawmakers to partly base Best and Brightest bonuses on teachers' scores on SAT and ACT college-admission exams. Under the settlement, money will go to black and Hispanic classroom teachers who were rated as "highly effective" but did not receive Best and Brightest bonuses since the program took effect in 2015. The settlement said the state denies the allegations that the program had a disparate impact on black, Hispanic and older teachers. The settlement creates a formula for determining the amount of payments to black and Hispanic teachers who are eligible, but the exact amounts of payment remain unclear. While the parties sought preliminary approval of the settlement Thursday, they plan to seek final approval after a period in which teachers can "opt out."
Judge backs state on teacher unions law
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Leon County circuit judge has rejected arguments by teacher unions that a controversial 2018 education law violates collective-bargaining rights and improperly singles out teachers among public employees. Judge Angela Dempsey on Friday issued an eight-page decision siding with the states arguments on the constitutionality of the law, which can require teacher unions to be recertified to represent employees. The Florida Education Association, unions in several counties and individual teachers filed the lawsuit in July 2018 challenging the constitutionality of the law. Now the case will go to trial, where teacher unions hope to prove the law unconstitutionally singles them out. Despite the law having been in effect for a full year, no teachers unions have so far failed to attain 50% membership.