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Senate Education Budget Includes Money For Teacher Raises

The Florida Senate has outlined a $1.1 billion spending proposal for K-12th grade education that includes the $480 million Governor Rick Scott has called for to fund teacher pay raises.

Scott has said he wants to see every full-time Florida teacher get a salary increase, but the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee has other ideas. Under an initial outline, the awarding of pay raises will be left to districts which will draw up plans for distributing the money and send those plans to the Florida Department of Education.

“We are having the districts base the award on student achievement,” said Committee Chairman Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton).

Meanwhile, Senate President Don Gaetz said he too believes teachers should have any pay hikes based on student performance. Gaetz says many teachers have at least gotten cost-of-living increases over the past few years, even though those increases aren't considered pay raises. He says Florida has worked hard to craft its performance pay system, and that, "it's time to fund performance pay for teachers."

A poll by the Quinnipiac Polling Institute found nearly 75 percent of surveyors support Governor Rick Scott's call for $2,500 pay raises for all full-time teachers. But whether that will pan out remains up in the air.

The State Board of Education has expressed doubts about across-the-board pay increases, and Scott also chided House Speaker Will Weatherford for his stance in favor of performance pay.

Weatherford has said the House budget will include money for teacher raises, but did not spell out how they would be awarded.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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