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Low Pay For Teachers Getting Attention From State Leaders

A large group of people assembled in front of a white, columned building with red and white banners on the windows
Kate Payne

State officials appear to be giving serious consideration to increasing teacher salaries next year. The Tampa Bay Times reports the Florida Department of Education recently met with six school district superintendents about the issue.

The state has funneled money into the bonus program, “Best and Brightest” but that’s not been enough to curb some 3,000 teacher vacancies in the state, nor has it been enough to raise Florida out of the bottom for teacher pay.

“We think all bonus programs for teachers are unsatisfactory and they don’t work in the long haul. This is the cheap way to pay teachers," says Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram. 

Florida is 46th in the nation when it comes to teacher compensation. Former Governor and now U.S. Senator Rick Scott proposed pay raises years ago. Now, the Tampa Bay Times reports Scott’s proposal was recently revisited by DOE and six superintendents during a meeting in Jacksonville.

Earlier this month, Senate Budget Chairman Rob Bradley told reporters several options are under consideration.

"You could do a bonus program, change how you do the bonus program, or do salary increases that are mandated instead of giving money to the district and having them, on an individual district basis, make those decisions.”

Both Bradley and Ingram note  it’s still largely up to school districts and their local teachers union to negotiate fine details should the state fund any raises. 

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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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