Boost Teachers' Pay, Urges Fla. Governor
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has announced a proposal to raise the pay of his state's teachers, but the idea must pass muster with the legislature first and could face other complications at the district level.
The Republican said that his fiscal 2014 budget request includes funding for a $2,500 salary increase for classroom teachers, a total of $480 million.
"I can think of no better investment for our state than investing in those teachers who work on the frontline of Florida's future every day by teaching our children," Mr. Scott said last week in a statement announcing the proposed pay hike.
However, he acknowledged in the same statement that the state legislature (controlled in both chambers by fellow Republicans) would have to approve the budget request.
Teachers' union reaction in the state has been mixed. Richard Smith, the president of the Brevard County Schools union, told the Associated Press that Mr. Scott can't simply impose the raises, even if teachers appreciate the idea, since they would have to be collectively bargained.
Ruth Melton, the director of legislative relations for the Florida School Boards Association, noted that the salary increase would only apply to full-time classroom teachers, not guidance counselors, media specialists, and other school employees. Those other workers may feel that their districts should also increase their salary or other benefits, she said, if teachers end up with the salary increases.
"There are certainly equity concerns among employees other than the full-time teachers [who] work just as hard," Ms. Melton said.
A political calculus could be behind the proposal from Gov. Scott, who is up for re-election in 2014 and has clashed in court with teachers about his policy on their evaluations, but so could a sincere desire to respond to constituents, she noted.
"He recognizes that parents and communities are unhappy with cuts that have been endured by the education community," Ms. Melton said.
Mr. Scott increased K-12 funding by $1 billion in fiscal 2013, up to $17.2 billion, but critics said it only partially made up for cuts he approved the previous year.
Vol. 32, Issue 19, Page 19