Statewide teachers union says Florida governor's budget doesn't do enough for public schools
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his budget on Tuesday, December 5 for the new fiscal year, with $15.1 billion dollars going to the state’s public schools.
The state’s teachers union says it isn’t nearly enough.
Highlights of the budget include a $200 million dollar year-over-year increase in funding to provide better pay for teachers and other instructional personnel.
The Florida Education Association reported a shortage of 7,000 teachers at the start of the school year.
But FEA President Andrew Spar said, with inflation factored in, these increases don’t go far enough. Florida still ranks 45th in public school spending and 48th in teacher pay.
“What we called on the governor and the legislature to do is increase funding by $2.5 billion a year for the next seven years," said Spar.
Without this bump, Spar said things will have to be cut.
“Are they going to cut music and art and PE programs? Are they going to cut programs for Advanced Placement classes that the community and parents want? Are they going to cut back on some of the career and tech programs? Are they going to cut back on some of the resource programs that we have to help students who may be struggling or may be behind?"
DeSantis said, the budget, “will ensure Florida’s schools and teachers have the tools they need to prepare Florida’s students for their future endeavors.”
The budget specifically outlines $4,000 dollar bonuses for 2,000 military veterans and retired first responders who have become teachers. And an additional $1,000 bonus for 1,000 teachers in "high-demand" teaching areas.
The exam and certification fees will also be waived for first responders who want to become teachers.
Along with funding increases for teacher pay, the budget includes $450 million for VPK, $10 million to enhance safety measures at Jewish day schools, and $5.5 million for mental health initiatives in schools.
Read the highlights of DeSantis' proposed spending on education.
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