SEBRING — The School Board of Highlands County would receive nearly $4 million in Gov. Ron DeSantis proposal to Florida lawmakers to approve a $602 million plan that would set a minimum salary of $47,500 for public-school teachers.
DeSantis’ budget proposal for 2020-21 seeks a pay raise for more than 101,000 teachers, nearly 60% of Florida’s teachers, by raising the minimum salary.
The governor’s education budget proposal also includes $300 million for teacher and principal bonuses that provide the greatest awards to those in Title 1 schools, which need the greatest support.
Highlands Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations Mike Averyt said the district is also proposed to get $1.7 million for the teacher bonus plan, so the total increase for the district under the governor’s budget is $5,926,000.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” he said, doubting that the Legislature would approve such a large increase.
“The governor’s budget is always better, but when it gets to the Legislature the money always gets paired down,” Averyt said.
Under DeSantis’ minimum teacher salary plan, half of the district’s teachers would have a pay increase to reach $47,500, which would be the base, and then all the teachers above $47,500 would not get an increase, he said.
That would be problematic especially when the district negotiates salaries with the teachers union, because after the earmarked funds are taken out of the budget, the new money would be $1,325, Averyt said, which would have to pay for inflationary costs and any other teacher and non-instructional salary increases, which is not very much money to work with.
“I am not very optimistic that the governor’s budget will be passed by the Legislature,” he said. “I don’t know if he has the revenue to support that.”
The estimated amount going to the state’s largest districts for the teacher minimum pay proposal includes: $41.38 million for Miami-Dade, $40.68 million for Hillsborough County and $40.17 million for Orange County.
Heartland area districts would receive the following estimated amounts if approved by the Legislature: DeSoto, $1.26 million; Glades, $642,148; Hardee, $1.16 million; Hendry, $2.34 million and Okeechobee, $1.59 million.