State Senate considering $47,500 minimum salary for public school teachers

A day before the 2020 legislative session starts, a Senate panel will consider legislation aimed at increasing teacher pay, a top priority for Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The bill (SB 1088), sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, is meant to be a vehicle for the governor’s pitch to set a $47,500 minimum salary for public school teachers.

It will be considered Jan. 13 by the Senate Education Committee. The bill says school districts would be able to use money from a “teacher salary enhancement allocation” to boost teacher pay.

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The bill adds the allocation would be included in the fiscal 2020-2021 state budget.

“A school district that meets the teacher salary enhancement requirements specific in the General Appropriations Act (the budget) may use any additional funds provided in the allocation for any district operating expenditure,” the bill says.

Under the governor’s $602 million teacher-pay plan, school districts would be required to pay teachers a minimum salary of $47,500. DeSantis also wants to repeal the “Best and Brightest” teacher-bonus program and replace it with a new $300 million bonus program.

The pair of proposals are expected to be among the highest-profile issues during the 2020 legislative session, which starts Jan. 14.

Teacher compensation is likely to play a key role in budget negotiations for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1.