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Merit Pay Only as Lawmakers Knock Out $2,500 Across-the-Board Raise for Teachers

| April 22, 2013

Florida teachers are still waiting for respect. (Gamma Ray Productions)

Florida teachers are still waiting for respect. (Gamma Ray Productions)

Gov. Rick Scott will get the $480 million he wanted for education pay raises. But barring a last-minute change of heart by legislative negotiators, he will not get an across-the-board, $2,500 increase for classroom teachers.

The House and Senate agreed to set aside the $480 million during as part of a Sunday negotiating session on the education budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The fine print guiding how the pay raises are provided still has to be worked out, but the lead negotiators for both sides said that any pay increases would be decided based on merit.

The House had been pushing for more money without as stringent a requirement that the funds go to teacher pay raises — even though lawmakers would have made it very clear that they should. Rep. Erik Fresen, the Miami Republican lead negotiations for the House, said Sunday the final language would make sure the money wound up in the right place.

“I think at the end of the day, regardless of how you look at it, it’s going to be used for teacher salary increases, and it will have a methodology that includes merit to make sure that that commitment to merit recognition stays in place,” he said.

Not only have lawmakers long championed the idea of basing the pay raises on merit, lawmakers said the fact that all instructional personnel would be included in the House and Senate raises — instead of just classroom teachers — means a $2,500 across-the-board raise wouldn’t be covered with the $480 million.

Scott has openly touted the pay raise as one of his two priorities for this year’s legislative session, the other being a sales tax exemption for manufacturing equipment. The governor’s office issued a terse statement following the meeting.

“The governor has priorities. The Legislature has priorities. There’s still enough time left to determine how successful this session will be for all of us,” said Scott spokeswoman Melissa Sellers.

Scott has said repeatedly that he believes that the increase should be across the board, though he dodged a question Wednesday on whether he would sign a budget that used merit as basis for the increase.

“Well, I’m confident the House and the Senate will do the right thing,” he said. “I’ve never talked about what type of budget I will and won’t sign.”

Districts have complained, most recently at a meeting with Scott on Wednesday, that merit increases could complicate efforts to negotiate contracts with local unions in time for the school year.

But Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton and lead negotiator for his chamber, brushed those gripes aside — noting that merit pay will be required in the 2014-15 school year.

“There’s legislation that’s been enacted,” Galvano said. “It’s out there. This is not something new for the districts.”

–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida

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13 Responses for “Merit Pay Only as Lawmakers Knock Out $2,500 Across-the-Board Raise for Teachers”

  1. Nancy N. says:

    The fact that our Republican governor can’t get the Republican-controlled legislature to give him his top legislative priority when we are about to enter an election cycle for governor pretty much says it all for Rick Scott.

    Turn out the lights…the party’s over.

  2. fla native says:

    They don’t need a damned raise. They only work nine months out of the year and get a three month vacation. They should find new careers. I’ve seen teachers’ salaries and they are more than most peoples’ that I know.

    • Nancy N. says:

      Teachers don’t just work an 8 hour day 5 days a week when school is in session. If you add up the hours they work over the course of the year, it’s comparable to a regular 12 month work schedule.

      Many teachers use at least part of their summer time to prep new lesson plans, take part in continuing education, and do other work related tasks. Saying they “only work 9 months out of the year” is a myth.

    • coach says:

      Fla native- you are funny

    • Mike says:

      If educators have it so easy, then perhaps you would like to become one? But then one must actually know something in order to teach something…

  3. Sherry Epley says:

    Right On, Nancy! It seems our governor started this whole “a raise for teachers” publicity stunt as a way to win votes, to begin with. He needs to be voted out of office! We also need the ability to hold “recall” elections. . . lots of luck on that one, though.

  4. Gia says:

    They are already well paid for 6 months of work. That raise is not justified.

    • Nancy N. says:

      Wow, what school does your kid go to that they only attend 6 months out of the year? My kid goes to Belle Terre and she attends school almost 10 months out of the year. As do the teachers.

    • JS says:

      We are paid for 10 months of work and NOT for the time we are off. People need to get their facts straight before making ignorant comments. The well paid comment is even more ignorant! After 22 years of teaching, I haven’t made it to 40,000 a year yet. How many professions are that under paid? This isn’t McDonald’s, it’s teaching the future of our country. Teachers are extremely disrespected in this country and it’s time something was done about it.

  5. fla native says:

    Great job Governor Scott! You ‘da man!

  6. Jack says:

    Well said Nancy N.! I don’t understand why teachers who have spent at least five years in college and probably have earned at least two degrees should have their salaries compared with the average wage earned in our area. As for the time spent on the job their are several comments that show how little many people understand the time spent thinking and working on school work outside of the school day and school schedule. Go by any school parking lot at about 6:30 PM or well before the school day begins and see how many cars are there. As Nancy N implies, most teachers are “recharging their batteries” during the time off in the summer. Also, teachers are not paid for those months off in the summer and do not get unemployment like many people in the work force.

  7. Dlf says:

    Most of the time you pay for what you get. Look at the product the current system is turning out and we should cut their pay. Now, in Flagler they are asking for more and more and still some more.

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