By Michal Ortner
A Florida Senator is fighting for the salaries of public school teachers to be at a minimum of $50,000 yearly. Senator Darren Soto filed a bill (SB 269) on Wednesday called the “Florida Teacher Fair Pay Act.” The Democratic official out of Orlando, FL believes that teachers deserve to be paid better for the work that they do.
“I’m proud today to file the Florida Fair teacher pay act, which would raise salaries at a minimum to $50,000 a year statewide,” Soto said. “I believe our teachers are overworked and underpaid particularly compared to other states.”
The senator also pointed out that Orange County teachers base salary is usually around $39,000.
According to Kevin Strange, a teacher from Boone High School, it is difficult for teachers that are just starting out.
“The challenge is you come out of college, riddled in student debt, and be able to make a $500 or $600 student payment every month and starting at that salary is very tough for new teachers,” Strange said.
“I’m so glad, something positive finally coming from Tallahassee,” he said, adding that the bill is encouraging.
“We’re dealing with a $625 million dollar surplus,” Soto said, explaining that the economy is improving and that he believes funding is available.
Soto says that any type of increase will be an improvement and while he is hoping that the $50,000 will be approved, anything is better than what they are currently making yearly. He doesn’t believe putting the money toward testing is reasonable.
“It’s really an insult to have these bonus programs now, when they’re really not sufficiently paid to begin with. We have a lot of veteran teachers leaving. People only working 6 to 8 years, when those veteran teachers are so critical to education and our kids,” he said.
Strange is rooting for the bill because he believes that teachers are at the core of every student’s success. The bill would ensure the stability of teachers and the future of students.
“We also have to do things to help keep them in the profession because more than half will quit before they ever hit their third year,” he stated.
The bill also includes a stipulation that the teachers’ salaries will increase according to the rates of inflation during that particular year. If the bill is passed, it would take effect in the 2016-2017 school year.