2020 Legislative Session: Education

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–Governor Ron DeSantis is making education a top priority in 2020. Under his proposed teacher-pay plan, schools would be required to pay teachers a minimum base salary of $47,500. That’s nearly $10,000 more than the one currently in place.

“I think it will be a big boost to our teachers here because of the financial burden they’re feeling from the storm,” said Bill Husfelt, Superintendent for Bay District Schools.

Husfelt believes that an increase in pay would also mean a higher retention rate.

“One of the factors making that more difficult is that the salary has not been worth the time and effort it takes to become a good and talented teacher,” Husfelt said.

The governor is also proposing to get rid of the ‘Best and Brightest’ teacher bonus program. He claims it has become too complicated over time. Husfelt agrees, saying the program has never worked the same way twice.

“It’s convoluted, it’s hard to understand, it’s based on factors that aren’t really related to being good teachers in the classroom,” Husfelt said.

DeSantis wants to replace it with a new program that encourages teachers and principals to work at schools in low-income areas. With many Title I schools in Bay County, Husfelt says he supports the governor’s idea.

“You have a teacher that agrees to go to a Title I school, they should be financially compensated for taking on that extra kind of work and I think thats what the governor realizes,” Husfelt said.

Husfelt also hopes lawmakers pay attention to mental health. Especially as our district continues to deal with extensive mental health issues following Hurricane Michael.

“I believe that as long as many of our families are crisis, we’re gonna have children in crisis. And that crisis is redefined in many ways but mental health is the underlying root of getting to that child,” Husfelt said.

DeSantis wants 2020 to be the ‘Year of the Teacher’. The legislative session begins Tuesday.

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