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Gov. DeSantis signs bill to increase teacher pay

The new bill will replace the Best and Brightest Award Program through the Florida Department of Education.

HIALEAH GARDENS, Fla. — With Gov. Ron DeSantis' signature, the state of Florida will go from 26th in the nation to 5th when it comes to teacher pay.

During a press conference Wednesday the governor announced he is signing HB 641 raising teacher base pay to at least $47,500 per year.

DeSantis shared that the bill took a lot of work on the policy and financial end saying, "it was not something that a lot of people thought necessarily could get done."

The new bill will replace the Best and Brightest Award Program through the Florida Department of Education. 

"Hopefully, by doing something like this it's going to entice some more people who may be young and thinking about what they want to do to maybe go into teaching," DeSantis said. "Obviously you're not going to get rich doing it, just like police officers don't get rich, just like other things. You do it because you have a servant's heart."

But, the governor said that having a good minimum salary will help teachers make ends meet, reward those who are working hard and assist with recruiting good teachers to educate Florida children for the generations to come.

The bill takes effect on July 1 and distributes $500 million to public school teachers across the state, regardless if they work for the school district or a charter school. DeSantis said another $100 million dollars will be given to "more experienced" teachers.

“This $500 million investment in Florida’s teachers is especially meaningful given the current circumstances. It speaks to the deep value of public education to our state’s future,” Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram said.

DeSantis assured those listening that while the financial landscape changed between January and early-March, this pay bump will "100 percent" be included in this year's budget because it is "important."

Richard Corcoran thanked the governor and legislature for their hard work on this bill sharing that it has a larger impact than bringing the state into the Top 5 for teacher compensation.

"It is the single largest teacher compensation package in the history of the state of Florida," Corcoran said sharing that the real winners with raising teacher pay are the school children.

According to the bill text, this will also prohibit a school district or charter school from reducing the base minimum salary of educators.

The governor took time to thank Florida teachers for their innovation while switching to virtual learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

"It was not an easy transition," DeSantis said. " I think Florida did better than just about any other state."

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