Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed Monday increasing the minimum salary to $47,500 for teachers across the state -- a move that would affect more than 101,000 Florida teachers. The measure will be included in the governor's 2020 budget proposal.
According to the National Education Association, Florida ranks 26th in the nation for starting teacher pay at $37,636. With this investment of more than $600 million, Florida will jump to No. 2 in the nation in starting teacher pay.
“We are experiencing a teacher shortage in Florida,” said DeSantis in making the announcement. “With a strong economy and plenty of jobs available in other fields, unfortunately too many college graduates are unwilling to enter the teaching profession. My proposal to increase the minimum salary for teachers to $47,500 will help alleviate this shortage and elevate the teaching profession to the level of appreciation it deserves. This is long overdue, and I look forward to working with the Legislature to make this a reality.”
Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran praised the governor's move.
“Getting a great teacher in front of every child is the No. 1 proven way to get great outcomes for students,” Corcoran said. “Today, Governor Ron DeSantis is elevating Florida’s teachers like never before and is making a statement nationally that Florida is the Education State and he is the Education Governor.
"Florida going from No. 26 to No. 2 in the nation in starting pay sends a clear signal to Florida’s teachers and our entire education family that we are ready to celebrate our teachers and foster lifelong success for our students.”
Speaker of the House Jose Oliva, however, hinted that passing such a big-ticket item among so many others already proposed will be analyzed carefully and skeptically -- particularly in a state that wisely balances its budget.
"I am in receipt of the governor's statement regarding teacher compensation as I am of the over $2B of new spending requests from his agencies," responded Oliva. "The legislative process will properly vet these among all other state concerns. My initial thought is one of gratitude for those who came before us and saw it fit to bind us and all future legislatures to a balanced budget."
DeSantis announced his proposal during a visit to Middleburg High School in Clay County, where he was joined by Corcoran and Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley. Monday afternoon, he visited Bayview Elementary School in Broward County and Dunedin High School in Pinellas County.
"Teachers have made an incredibly positive impact on my life and the lives of my wife and kids,” said Bradley. “This session, it’s time to say thank you both in word and in deed. I’m proud to stand with Gov. Ron DeSantis as we fight for higher pay for Florida teachers.”
Education has been a top priority of DeSantis’ administration. During the 2019 legislative session, the governor worked with the Florida Legislature to secure historic achievements for Florida’s students and families, including these:The highest ever per pupil spending at $7,672 per student.
The Creation of the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, which expands education opportunities for children of families with limited financial resources.
Continued legislative and funding support for the Schools of Hope Program and expanded the locations where the Schools of Hope Program can operate.
$10 million in funding dedicated to career and technical education for the newly created Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grand Program.
Funding for students on the waiting list for the Gardiner Scholarship and cleared the waitlist for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship.
$10 million to fund teacher professional development in computer science and reward those teachers for earning credentials to teach high quality computer science courses.