Raising Florida teacher salaries comes at a cost

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Raising teacher salaries is high on Governor Ron DeSantis' agenda, and while a local teacher's union recently agreed with Bay District Schools for a 3% pay raise...it's still drastically different from what the governor would like to see.

Although Florida's governor wants to raise the minimum salaries for teachers, it would cost the state $600 million which has many asking- where will that money come from? (WJHG/WECP)

"Looking forward we want to recruit, you know, the best people we can to be in teaching. It's an important part of our development of our kids," said Governor DeSantis during a visit to Tyndall Air Force base this week.

The minimum starting salary for teachers in Bay County is $36,000 with the average teacher making about $44,000.

DeSantis said, "but we would set a minimum salary for every public school teacher in Florida at $47,500. So that means every single teacher who's hired, new, or is currently teaching who is below that would get put up to that."

The cost of raising the minimum salary for more than 100,000 teachers in Florida will be more than $600 million dollars. Now a big question remains...where will the state find all that money?"

Jim Loyed, Bay District Schools CFO, said, "where they're going to get it I'm as interested as anybody. I mean we don't know. I'm assuming they'll make other cuts, they'll have some increases. I don't think he's given any details on that part of the plan yet."

Loyed says while it would be a big move, governors have made these salary boosts possible in the past. Former governor Rick Scott did something similar, securing a $2,500 raise for educators.

"We were thankful for it because the way he did it we had to make sure that those were recurring dollars because if you give a raise obviously it continues on to the next year and they did," said Loyed, but he is unsure where Governor DeSantis will find the millions for his proposed pay raise.

"You know if you are in that 35 to 40-thousand range you will go up to $47,500. We'll be introducing my budget in the couple of weeks. This is all totally within a budget," Loyed said.

One Florida House subcommittee is currently tasked with finding a way to get that money.

At this time no teacher salary increases have been approved yet. The 3% negotiated between the teacher's union and the district still has to get final approval and the Governor's proposed legislation will not be up for debate until next year.

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