How do you spell "relief?"
Florida teachers certainly may be feeling some relief, since Gov. Rick Scott indicated that he will use Florida's first budget surplus in five years for an across-the-board pay raise for public school teachers at the tune of $2,500 for each full-time K-12 teacher.
“My proposed budget will include $480 million in funding to support a $2,500 pay raise for full-time public classroom teachers in our state," Scott said during his announcement in Orlando. "This funding will support districts’ ability to provide a $2,500 teacher pay raise, plus the cost of related benefits. This teacher pay raise is in addition to an overall increase in education funding that will be included in our full budget proposal."
Scott also said the school districts cannont use these funds for other than classroom teacher salaries, and the money will not be treated as a bonus check.
Here is how it will work out for Sarasota County, The Herald-Tribune reported:
"In Sarasota County, 2,810 teachers would get the raise, with the school district receiving more than $8.03 million under the plan. The money covers the salary increase as well as related costs for Social Security and the state pension."
Full-time teachers included in the plan are:
- Classroom teachers
- Exceptional Student Education teachers
- Pre-K Exceptional Student Education teachers
- Prek-K teachers
- Adult Education teachers who teach for-credit courses
- Career Education Teachers
Florida teachers have been among the angry protesters at many of Scott's event, opposing spending cuts that affect their salaries and benefits.
Scott is seeking re-election and has been extending a hand -- with some debit cards -- to teachers, according to the Bradenton Herald.
He called for $250 debit cards for all teachers to help cover the costs of out-of-pocket classroom expenses.
Here ares some Frequently Asked Questions about the plan provided by the governor:
1. Question: Who will get the $2,500 increase?
Answer: All full-time K-12 public school classroom teachers, as defined in Section 1012.01(2)(a), Florida Statutes are eligible for the salary increase. Full-time prekindergarten classroom teachers funded through the Florida Education Finance Program are also eligible. In addition to the allocation for this teacher salary increase, funding is also included in the Governor’s budget that school districts may use for other purposes, including salary increases for other school district staff.
2. Question: Will job share teachers receive the increase?
Answer: Because job share teachers are not full-time instructional personnel, they will not be eligible for the increase. Nevertheless, school districts may chose to provide an increase to job share teachers using the additional discretionary funding provided in the Governor’s budget.
3. Question: When will classroom teachers receive the increase?
Answer: This increase is intended for the 2013-14 fiscal year, so each school district will determine teacher increases upon completion of collective bargaining.
4. Question: Will all eligible classroom teachers receive the same increase?
Answer: It is up to each district school board to determine actual salary increases in accordance with their respective salary schedule and collective bargaining agreements. Nevertheless, it is the intent that each teacher’s salary will increase by $2,500. Each charter school will determine the distribution for its school.
5. Question: Is the $2,500 increase a one-time bonus, or will it go to classroom teachers’ base salaries?
Answer: The Governor’s budget recommendation includes recurring funds for this salary increase to be added to classroom teacher’s base salaries.
6. Question: Will the increase need to be bargained through the teachers’’ union in each local school district?
Answer: Yes. The Governor is asking teachers’ unions and school districts to honor his intention to boost classroom teachers’ salaries by providing the funds necessary for a $2,500 pay raise for full-time public classroom teachers.
7. Question: Can school districts use these funds for purposes other than classroom teacher salary increases?
8. Question: What happens if a school district fails to provide the increase to its classroom teachers?
Answer: All school districts must file a report with the Department of Education by June 30, 2014, regarding their use and implementation of these funds. This report must indicate the actual salary awards provided, and include a justification for any variance from the intended $2,500 salary increase. Funds unexpended as of June 30, 2014, will revert to the state treasury.
9. Question: Recently, there has been an emphasis on performance pay to help retain state employees and teachers. How does this recommendations support that?
Answer: Retaining the best employees in any profession is achieved in a number of ways, including increasing base salaries and providing reliable opportunities to receive additional increases. This increase is to recognize that our great teachers are essential to the economic improvement and success of this state. The Governor said, “By 2014, Florida teachers will be a part of our performance pay structure that will help attract and advance the most high-performing teachers in our education system. We believe in teacher accountability and we know our teachers do too. With the new performance system in place, now is the time to increase our investment in Florida’s teachers.”
10. Question: What about other support staff and other non-instructional personnel?
Answer: Support staff and non-instructional personnel are also key school personnel that impact our student’s overall success. Governor Scott’s education budget recommendations will include additional funds that could be used to provide these staff with a salary increase.