BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Teachers are not the only ones who are concerned about fair pay as some school counselors say they feel they are excluded by the governor's recent proposal.
- Union says it did negotiate on behalf of counselors
- Governor is looking at other "teacher compensation programs," staff says
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Aimee Jeane is a certified school counselor at Lewis Carroll Elementary School in Merritt Island.
She says in today's world, students need a counselor more than ever.
"There's so much trauma these kids are coming in with, they need support," Jeane said.
She says she was excited to hear the governor's recent proposal to raise starting teacher pay.
However, as a school counselor who makes the same as her teacher colleagues, she says she feels excluded.
"I'm being left out, school counselors are being left out," she said.
Vice President of the Brevard Federation of Teachers union Vanessa Skipper says they negotiate on behalf of counselors and other school staff as well as teachers.
However, this is not the first time she says counselors and other key staff have been excluded.
Skipper says they were also left out of the teacher bonus Best and Brightest Award Program.
"It almost feels like maybe they're not as valued on school campus when we know that's absolutely not true," Skipper said.
Jeane says in order to become a counselor she had to get a Master's degree. Leaving her with student debt, she is still struggling to pay back 21 years later.
"Ten's of thousands, because on my salary, I can barely pay the interest. The interest is killer," Jeane said.
Skipper says the governor's proposal might do a lot to recruit new teachers, but in its current form, does little to keep the experienced ones.
"While we very much appreciate the conversation is starting to revolve around how low Florida pays its teachers, we want to make sure no one gets left behind," Jeane said.
Jeane says she believes in what she is doing, but also has to think about her future.
"I love my school, I love my community … and I have the best kids … but I have to look at all around what's best," she says.
However, Gov. Ron DeSantis' staff has signaled the starting teacher pay raise may not be the end of it.
His communication director, Helen Ferre, tweeted, "not the only area of compensation or bonuses that Governor Ron DeSantis is looking at, other teacher compensation programs are being reviewed."
Increasing starting salary for teachers, which affect over 101,000 classroom teachers is not the only area of compensation or bonuses that @GovRonDeSantis is looking at, other teacher compensation programs are being reviewed. Stay tuned.— Helen Aguirre Ferré (@helenaguirrefer) October 7, 2019