Florida lawmakers want to raise starting teacher pay to $65,000
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled his 2023 budget proposal on Wednesday, which includes a record $26 billion for K-12 education.
About $1 billion is expected to go directly to teacher salaries, but critics said that’s not enough to push Florida out of the bottom three in the nation for average teacher salaries.
Meanwhile, thousands of apprenticeship positions remain vacant across the state.
The minimum base salary for teachers in Florida is currently nearly $48,000. Some of our local lawmakers want that to increase to $65,000 and believe that is a necessary and realistic goal.
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“Right now, teachers aren’t just teachers. They’re therapists. They’re parents. And right now, they’re underpaid. They’re underpaid and overworked,” said State Rep. Jervonte Edmonds, D-West Palm Beach.
Edmonds is preparing for, and is already running, its first legislative session “Save Our Teachers Act” Increase minimum wage for teachers by more than $10,000.
“I don’t know if we want to call this a state of emergency with inflation, gas, groceries and rents going up. But now more than ever is the time when we need to invest in our infrastructure and make sure our public school foundations don’t crumble,” Edmonds said.
According to the latest data from the Florida Department of Education, Edmond’s proposal would put the starting salary even higher than the current average salary for teachers in the state, which is just over $51,000.
“If we’re going to increase the starting salary to $65,000, we need to raise salaries across the board at a reasonable level to make it fair,” said Scott Houchins, a teacher at Palm Beach Central High School.
Houchins supports raising teachers’ salaries but doesn’t want his experience to lag behind.
“$65,000 is a higher base salary than my current base salary, so it would be kind of a slap in the face to the experienced teachers, especially those of us who have been teaching for 20-25 years, if we didn’t look at that,” said Houchins.
Edmonds said the goal was to uplift everyone in the classroom.
“This bill doesn’t leave out our experienced teachers, which is a blessing,” Edmonds said. “It will allow them to get all the bonuses and incentives they’ve ever had. So it’s really going to allow them to get a huge boost and not be on the same totem pole as someone who just walked in.”
DeSantis recently announced its education platform, which includes $1 billion that will go to school districts to pay teachers.
But Edmonds said it wasn’t enough.
“We really move pennies. And when you include the taxes, that’s really not an increase,” Edmonds said. “I have seen [DeSantis] do amazing things for our first responders, our law enforcement agencies, and it’s about time we reward those who take care of our kids, and that’s our teachers.
State Senator Lori Berman, D-Boca Raton, has tabled an accompanying bill in the Senate. The legislative period begins in March.
For more information on Palm Beach County school district teacher salaries, visit Click here.