ORLANDO, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to raise the minimum pay for Florida teachers by thousands.
- DeSantis's budget asks for $600M to raise minimum teacher pay
- He wants to bring minimum teacher salary in Florida to $47,500
- Proposal would have to be adopted in upcoming legislative session
In his 2020 budget proposal, DeSantis is recommending that the minimum salary be raised to $47,500. The average starting pay for a teacher in the state is $37,636, which the National Education Association says ranks 26th in the nation.
"We're not even in the top half of the 50 states in terms of minimum salary," DeSantis said Monday. "We would go all the way to the top five."
The new salary would make Florida second in the nation in minimum teacher pay.
The raise could affect more than 101,000 teachers.
DeSantis said he hopes that by raising the minimum salary, it will help alleviate the state's teacher shortage.
State lawmakers still have to find a way to fund the plan — estimated to cost $600 million — and pass legislation in the upcoming legislative session.
There's also the question of how the proposal would affect teachers already in the system. Pinellas Secondary School teacher Travis Lueth, who last month tearfully spoke during a school board meeting about low-income struggles of teachers, said he was initially of two minds about DeSantis's proposal.
But then a closer look more or less diffused any enthusiasm for it Lueth might have had.
"One I was heartened to hear that he’s thinking of us and maybe is listening to us," Lueth said. "But once I dug into it, I was unfortunately not surprised to find that it was a pretty empty proposal."
"There’s no real meat to the bones there in terms of how it would help veteran teachers," Lueth went on. "For me as a five-year teacher, I’d be better off to quit and get rehired as a new teacher. I’d make more money."
However, one teacher finds the news encourgaging.
Sandra Thuringer is a 13-year Orange County teacher and she says a raise like would encourage more people to become teachers., which would help the statewide teacher shortages.
But she says this measure would do nothing for veteran teachers like herself.
She says she wants to see something like they recently agreed to in Brevard County, where teachers working more than 12 years get a longevity supplement to their raise.
"They made a great plan to increase and have their veteran teachers get a substantial increase, so if the other districts can follow suit, then I think it will still be a very positive thing," she said.