Superintendent Rocky Hanna considering property tax increase to fund veteran teacher salaries

Superintendent Rocky Hanna says he’s considering a property tax hike to help pay salaries for veteran teachers.
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 10:49 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Leon County School administrators are trying to change teacher salary discrepancies.

Some teachers with decades in the classroom are making no more than new hires straight out of college.

To remedy this, superintendent Rocky Hanna says he’s considering a property tax hike to help pay salaries for veteran teachers.

Scott Mazur, the president of the Leon Classroom Teachers Association, says teachers are frustrated that their salaries are not increasing to reflect their experience.

“Given that it’s Teacher Appreciation Week, they feel very disrespected,” Mazur said. “You could have been in Leon County Schools for seven years, served in the classroom, been a leader at your school. Someone graduates and makes the same amount of money that you do.”

District leaders say this is the result of the state’s 80-20 rule, which requires that 80% of state funding goes toward beginning teachers and only 20% to veteran teachers.

The result? Florida ranks 16th in the nation in terms of a teacher’s starting salary, but 48th in overall salary.

“I am now sounding the alarm,” Superintendent Rocky Hanna said. “If we don’t do something and do something soon, I fear for the future of our traditional public schools.”

Hanna said he’s considering a plan to raise property taxes and put the extra money directly toward salaries for veteran teachers.

“Public education in Leon County is important,” Hanna said. “And if the state isn’t going to help us, then we need to take matters into our own hands.”

This is still a preliminary conversation, Hanna said.

The next step would be to discuss the property tax idea with the Leon County School Board.

But district leaders agree: Something needs to be done.

“We continue to rise to the occasion to do more with less,” Mazur said. “But there is a point in time where we have to actually provide some resources, financial resources to meet the needs.”

Hanna talked about a potential half-millage property tax increase, which would net around $10 million for Leon County Schools each year.

For homeowners, it would mean a $100 increase on a home with a $200,000 property value.

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