The Florida legislature reached a revised budget deal Wednesday that would offer pay hikes for qualifying teachers and school employees as early as September.
The deal comes after an initial budget agreement that had school employees receiving raises starting in June 2014. After negative feedback from teachers, that legislation was tweaked to make the pay bumps take place much sooner, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Now, Florida school boards can distribute pay increases anytime before June 2014, "as negotiated with collective bargaining units and educators," as stated in Politifact.
Getting pay raises for educators has been high on Republican Governor Rick Scott’s agenda, as the initiative was just one of two priorities he introduced this session, according to Politifact. The legislature agreed upon earmarking $480 million in the state’s budget for the effort.
After the Florida legislature reached its original budget plan earlier this week, Governor Scott wrote on his Facebook page that he was “proud to announce that every Florida teacher gets a pay raise.” However, under the revised agreement, that is not necessarily true. The Miami Herald reports that whether or not a teacher will get a pay raise will be determined by a merit-based system set up by individual school boards.
Lawmakers have suggested that teachers deemed “effective” by their school districts should receive a salary increase of at least $2,000. They recommend to school districts that teachers deemed “highly effective” receive raises of up to $3,500, according to the Orlando Sentinel. In addition to teachers, other school employees -- such as principals and guidance counselors -- are also eligible for the raises.
Politifact notes that, under the revised agreement, there is no mandate dictating that teachers deemed less than effective receive any type of raise. However, 97.2 percent of Florida teachers were rated "effective" or "highly effective" during the 2011 – 2012 school year.
Superintendant Alberto Carvalho of Miami-Dade County Public Schools praised the revised budget. “This empowers local school boards with the ability to negotiate an evaluation system and payout well before June 2014,” he said, per the Herald.