Bay County Teachers Weigh In on Gov. Scott's Pay Raise Proposal

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A pay raise usually doesn't reate controversy, but that's exactly what happened following Governor Rick Scott's announcement Wednesday regarding teacher salary increases. Scott proposed a $2,500 raise across the board for all of Florida's 168,000 full-time teachers, a nearly half billion dollar investment.

"Florida teachers are at the heart of the success of Florida students," Scott said.

And while anyone you ask would gladly take more money, Bay County teachers and school officials NewsChannel 7 talked to said they're skeptical.

"Are we going to have to do without textbooks? Already we're short on textbook money. Is that going to come off of that? Or what about transportation?" questioned Bay High School Music Teacher Julia House.

Even if Florida legislators can find the extra money, teachers may not end up noticing much of a difference in their paycheck. Before taxes, the $2,500 breaks down to roughly $200 more per month, but when you factor in their mandatory 3% contributions to retirement, it only adds up to a fraction of the original amount.

"It might be that they (teachers) look at that 3% and say, 'Well that's half of $2,500," Bay District School's Deputy Superintendent Sandra Davis told NewsChannel 7.

Another big questions is how Scott's teacher performance pay system could affect this possible raise. That answer was not immediately clear.
And with his previous funding cuts to education, Scott's critics said he may just be trying to gain support in his bid for reelection.

"He doesn't have a good reputation with the teachers. Chances are I don't know whether it'll get him more votes because he's done so many other things where he's made cuts," Association of Bay County Educators President Diane Wishart said.

"The bottom line is that the only thing that any teacher really wants is to feel appreciated. You can't put a dollar amount on the appreciation value or the thank you you might get from a parent or a former student, and I think that that goes further than any kind of $2,500 raise," added Bay High School Band Director Nick Efstathiou.

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