LARGO, Fla. - Florida is moving up in the ranks for best starting teacher pay after the governor approved $500 million for salary increases Wednesday.
“It will take Florida from No.26 in the nation to No.5 in the nation for average minimum salary,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
According to the new law, $400 million will go toward raising every full-time public school and charter school teacher’s salary to $47,500 a year, which will also be the new starting pay. The remaining $100 million will go toward raises for experienced teachers.
“My understanding is that the best they can hope for is 20 cents on the dollar of what somebody just walking in is going to get as far as a raise,” said Mike Gandolfo, president of the Pinellas County Teachers Association.
The PCTA said it’s a mixed blessing.
“A large amount of teachers are going to benefit from it. But in a profession that prides itself on collaboration and working together, it kind of pits teacher against teacher,” said Gandolfo.
PCTA said veteran educators who worked years within a district to reach the new base pay will now see newcomers earning the same.
“Ten years ago, they cut us very badly, and we’re just catching up now to where we were 10 years ago,” said Gandolfo.
The governor hopes the change will be a draw.
“We think it’s important, one, just to reward the people that are working hard, but two, really to help recruit good people to fill the ranks of our teachers for generations to come,” said DeSantis.
And while teachers said the investment is a good one, they hope for the same attention to other school issues.
“We need to constantly be reinvesting in public education. I think this is a good first step but out students need more resources, our school buildings need repair
While the base pay is $47,500 with the additional funding, the governor said the individual school districts will try to get the salaries as close to that number based on their own funding.