DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WMBB) – Walton County School District teachers just got a pay increase. 

“What we want to do is make sure everybody in the high school district understands how we value them,” said School Superintendent A. Russell Hughes.

It took just two meetings to settle negotiations to bring teacher base pay up by $5,000. First-year teachers will get $55,000 a year, ranking third in the state for starting teacher salaries. 

“It’s just been really good for our teachers. I’m excited for them. I work them really hard and they know it. Our school board has placed the money in the hands of our teachers because they deserve it,” said Hughes. 

The salaries for experienced educators are also increasing by $500 based on experience and advanced degrees.

“We want the best teachers right here, and we feel like that we need to compensate them and they’re being compensated. And we’re glad that we’re able to arrive at that settlement,” said Hughes. 

A third-year middle school teacher said her salary has increased by nearly $20,000 since she started. 

“Whenever I started, we were actually at about $38,000 and now I’m upwards of $55,000 as a third calendar year teacher. So it’s definitely been a huge increase. I’ve also seen a lot of different policy things change as negotiations have been going on. So I’m just so grateful to be able to have these increases and have these experiences,” said Kaylyn Rhodes, 7th grade English teacher.

The school district also gave a $2 per hour raise to supporting roles in the district such as bus drivers and food service workers.  The raises came with a one-time bonus for being the third-rank school district in the state academically. 

The district also agreed to cover the 13% health insurance premium increase to keep healthcare free for full-time staff. 

The school district said they have four teacher jobs open at the moment and plenty of support staff roles needing to be filled.  

Click here for a link to Walton County School District jobs.