PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis made a big announcement on Monday as he looks to raise teacher pay in the Sunshine State.
“We’re going to be asking the legislature to increase the minimum starting salary for teachers in this state to to $47,500,” he said at Middleburg High School in Middleburg, Florida.
The proposal is in response to teacher shortage concerns across the state, and while many applaud the governor’s plan, teachers like Mowat Middle School’s Alexis Underwood, are skeptical.
“We know very little about the nuts and bolts of the program,” she said.
As the President of the Association of Bay County Educators, Underwood says she’s excited about the governor’s willingness to make the state’s education system a priority. However, she says this plan doesn’t fix everything.
“I’m concerned that none of this program seems to mention any of the educational staff professionals that are absolutely required to run our schools,” she said.
By education staff professionals, she is referring to people such as lunchroom staff and bus drivers.
On top of that, she says the plan only addresses starting pay; for teachers like Underwood who have been teaching for almost twenty years, the raise doesn’t mean much.
“So all of the sudden someone who’s a first year teacher is going to be making essentially within 200 dollars of the same amount of money I make after 17 years in education,” she asked. “Good news for the new teacher, not so motivating for the experienced teacher.”
However, if the proposal is passed during the Legislative Session in January, it would bring the Sunshine State up to number two from 26 in the state ranking for starting teacher pay.
“I’m really excited that he recognizes the value of public education and is willing to put some money behind the programs,” said Underwood.
She says the association is looking forward to partnering with state lawmakers to come up with more solutions during the Legislative Session.