Florida teacher union reacts to governor's pay raise proposal

By: Jacob Murphey | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 7, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Florida governor Ron DeSantis set an ambitious goal Monday while touring a Jacksonville-area school. He wants to see a major spike in the staring salary for teachers.

"From the bottom half of the 50 states to the top five," he said.

That jump would be thanks to a proposed base salary of $47,500.

Carole Gauronskas, the Secretary Treasurer of the Florida Education Association, says it's a good starting point for a serious issue.

"Teachers are working two or three jobs on top of a teaching day job to cover their student loans," she said.

But now the big question: Where will the money come from?

The governor says the $600 million cost is "easily doable."

However, some legislators could disagree, leaving the salary increase out of the budget. It's something Gauronskas has seen before.

"We've been woefully left to do what we can with what we got," she said.

Also, she fears the proposal doesn't include every educator.

"It's for classroom teachers only," she said. "That leaves out a lot of teachers in this state."

Even so, Gov. DeSantis says a pay bump could be a game changer for those just entering the workforce.

"I think when you have college graduates who may have options, I think teaching becomes something they would consider doing," he said.

A pay raise could secure better talent for Florida schools, meaning higher success rates for students.

"Hopefully this is a turning point, hopefully this is one that will benefit all children in public schools," Gauronskas said.

But will the talk turn to action? There's already some friction from lawmakers.

Speaker of the House José Oliva released a statement late Monday afternoon.

He noted the governor's large wish list and that a vetting process will decide what gets through when the legislative session meets again in January.

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