FLORIDA (CW44 News At 10) –

Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 641, Funds for the Operation of Schools, and announced the approval of $500 million in the state’s budget that will be signed in the coming days, dedicated to raising teacher salaries in Florida. $400 million is invested to raise the minimum base pay for full-time classroom teachers, and $100 million is to raise the salaries of Florida’s veteran teachers and other instructional personnel. This historic increase puts Florida among the best states in the nation for minimum teacher pay, a bold step in alleviating the teacher shortage and elevating the teaching profession to the level of appreciation it deserves.

Who Benefits from HB 641:

  • Step 1: Full-time classroom teachers (s. 1012.01(2)(a), F.S.) plus certified pre-K teachers funded in the FEFP (not including substitute teachers)
  • Step 2: Group from Step 1 who did not receive an increase or increase was less than 2%, and other full-time instructional personnel (not including substitute teachers) (s. 1012.01(2)(b)-(d), F.S.)

How funds are distributed:

  • These funds must be used solely to increase teacher salaries and no collective bargaining agreement can alter this requirement.
  • Step 1: Requires school districts and charters to use $400 million to increase the salaries of all full-time school instructional classroom teachers to at least $47,500 or the maximum amount achievable based on the district’s allocation.
  • Step 2: Requires school districts and charters to use $100 million to provide salary increases of the group from Step 1 who did not receive an increase or received an increase of less than 2%, and other full-time instructional personnel.

“COVID-19 has interrupted our students’ and teachers’ academic year in unprecedented ways,” said Governor DeSantis. “Our teachers stepped up and found ways to keep our students learning and engaged these last few months to ensure students continued to receive the best education in the nation. They taught classes virtually; they made sure lesson materials were delivered; they committed to their students. Great teachers are what our students need as they re-enter the classroom in the fall, and that’s why this remained a major priority in our budget. Florida was previously 26th in the nation for teacher pay and this announcement puts us in the top five, an over 20 spot jump in one year that reflects an historic investment in teacher compensation.”

“I applaud Governor DeSantis for recognizing the hard work of Florida teachers, particularly during these trying times,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “I am proud to support this historic pay increase, which recognizes the value of investing in our teachers.”

“I want to thank Governor DeSantis, and the Florida Legislature, including Representatives Plasencia and Overdorf for making Florida teachers a priority,” said Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. “This historic legislation will continue to empower our teachers and foster lifelong success for our students. Florida educators stepped up for their students through COVID-19 and once again proved Florida is the best state in the nation to get a world-class education. Nothing can understate the important role that high quality teachers play in ensuring that these efforts were successful. I believe that every student, regardless of their zip code or family circumstances, should be afforded the same opportunities to succeed in the classroom. That starts with a great teacher. Governor DeSantis is the education Governor, Florida is the education state, and 2020, even during these unprecedented times, has proven to be the year of the teacher.”

“I am pleased to see this great legislation signed into law,” said Senate President Bill Galvano. “Neighborhood public schools are the backbone of our education system. Increasing the salaries of the tremendous teachers who dedicate their lives to serving our students is a priority shared by the Legislature and Governor DeSantis, and we are particularly aware of the sacrifices they have made to help our students adjust to the new learning environment necessitated by COVID-19. Last year’s budget increased K-12 education funding by $783 million, including $363.9 million in flexible spending. This year we built on that commitment with a new Teacher Salary Increase Allocation, along with an increase in flexible funding through the Base Student Allocation. These significant increases allow us to focus on Governor DeSantis’ priority of increasing the minimum classroom teacher salary, while also providing opportunities for districts to invest in veteran teachers. Governor DeSantis is a champion of our public school system and it has been an honor to work with him on significant funding investments and policy enhancements that ensure we continue to elevate our neighborhood public schools.”

“In October, Governor DeSantis promised to fight for historic teacher raises,” said Senator Rob Bradley. “Promise made, promise kept. The Governor and the Legislature delivered. This truly is the “Year of the Teacher” in Florida!”

“As one of my last pieces of legislation, I am humbled and grateful I’ve had the opportunity to fight for our teachers and students,” said Representative Jennifer Sullivan. “Today is momentous for the teachers who give their all to serve our students day in and day out. Thank you, Governor DeSantis, Speaker Olivia, and Chair Diaz, for making Teacher Pay a priority. I believe this is just the beginning, and look forward to what is to come!”