DeSantis promotes education budget proposals

DeSantis promotes education budget proposals

Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday, November 10, put forward portions of the proposed education budget for the upcoming fiscal year, calling the recommendations “gains for families, students, and teachers.”

The governor will ask lawmakers during the 2022 legislative session to increase spending per student in public schools by more than $200 during the current fiscal year, to $8,000 per student.

DeSantis also wants to spend $15.5 million to implement a plan that would replace statewide standardized tests known as Florida Standards Assessments with the Progress Monitoring System. DeSantis announced in September that he would ask lawmakers to end the current system of standardized testing.

This will be recurring funding because the progress monitoring tools are more interactive, and smarter. They provide more feedback in ways that are useful to parents, teachers, and students,” DeSantis said.

Continuing with a plan to increase the minimum salary for teachers to $47,500, DeSantis said he would recommend lawmakers to allocate $600 million to increase teacher salaries. This amount represents an additional $50 million in teacher salaries funding from the current budget.

When I became governor, the lowest average salary was around $40,000. Now it’s close to $47,000. And with our suggestion, we’d be in a really good place. It’s definitely one of the top ten in the country (in terms of teacher salaries), and we’re probably among the top five in the country,” DeSantis said during a press conference Wednesday at Charter School in Jacksonville.

Florida suffered from a teacher shortage, and a minimum wage increase was touted as a way to help recruit teachers. The Florida Education Association’s Teachers’ Federation reported about 5,000 teaching positions open at the start of this school year, based on a survey of school districts’ websites.

The union on Wednesday cast doubt on DeSantis’ plan to increase teacher salaries as a way to fix a teacher shortage.

For the third year in a row, DeSantis has announced that it plans to hire teachers by raising initial wages. If it had worked, it would have worked. Two years after his initiative, FL has experienced a mass exodus of teachers leaving hundreds of thousands of students without highly qualified teachers,” the Teachers Union said in a tweet on Twitter.

DeSantis will in the coming weeks release a full budget proposal for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which will begin on July 1. Lawmakers will use this proposal as a starting point while crafting the spending plan during the legislative session that begins in January.

The proposals released Wednesday also included a plan to provide an additional one-time payment of $1,000 to teachers and school administrators. These bonuses were distributed to approximately 177,000 teachers and administrators this year using federal stimulus funds.

“I think these $1,000 bonuses are very meaningful, and I think it’s something we want to continue to do,” the governor said.

DeSantis is also looking to spend $421 million on school safety and mental health initiatives, including money for school-strengthening and security grants at Jewish day schools.

An additional $534 million will be allocated to strengthen workforce development programs at school districts and state colleges.

In higher education, DeSantis is asking lawmakers to continue to “keep the line” on college fees by blocking increases.

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