TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Florida lawmakers set aside $480 million for teacher raises last spring, but none of that cash has made it into teachers' paychecks yet.
Teachers are also learning their raise will be a lot smaller than the $2,500 that Gov. Rick Scott pushed for.
Teachers say they're glad to be recognized with a raise but some are surprised at the amount. The raises range between $1,700 and $2,200 in negotiations between school districts and the teachers' union, according to the Michael Monroe of the Florida Education Association.
Gov. Rick Scott convinced state lawmakers to set aside $480 million for raises, but he expected the money to go only to classroom teachers.
The Legislature decided to include principals and other instructional personnel, so that means the cash will be split up among more workers.
"The $480 million pot stayed the same. The population of people eligible for it increased and so the pie was the same and more people were invited to the party so you get a smaller slice," said Monroe.
Teacher benefits, including costs for retirement and social security, will also eat up a chunk of the raise.
Monroe says the raises are averaging around $2,000. Five districts have completed union negotiations and sent their salary plans to the Florida Department of Education.
So far only one, Volusia County, is planning to use some of its own money to give teachers a bigger raise. The FEA is pushing school districts to try to find money in other parts of their budgets to award raises closer to $2,500.
"What we've been advocating for is that school districts, now that the economy is back on the upswing, that they make teachers the priority. They have technology, textbooks, all these other things but teachers in many counties haven't been the priority."
Monroe says it looks as though districts that complete salary negotiations now will be able to include the new raise in September paychecks.