Nassau County teacher, superintendent say


Governor Ron DeSantis ran campaign ads prior to the election touting a historic raise in pay for teachers, but which teachers will actually see that historic raise?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — More money for teachers. It was more than just a hope, it was written into legislation over the past 3 years in Florida. But who exactly got the money?

$47,500 is supposed to be the lowest salary for teachers in Florida and for many teachers, that’s a massive raise. The increase in teacher pay was even a central theme of a campaign ad for Governor Ron DeSantis.

“Governor DeSantis has delivered for Florida families with historic k-12 funding and increased teacher pay,” states part of the ad, the full ad can be seen here:

“Not for everybody,” says Stephanie Rowe upon hearing the ad, “maybe for new teachers, new hires.”

Rowe is a science teacher in St Johns County with 10 years of teaching experience. She and many of her ,colleagues were excited when the Governor first proposed teacher pay increases in 2020.

“I remember hearing about that in the news and collectively everyone teaching said, what about us,” said Rowe, “since that was announced I can tell you I’ve only got what the district offered and its small.”

New teachers were the main beneficiaries of the increase in teacher’s pay. According to House Bill 641 of the Florida Legislature, all full-time teachers qualify for the minimum base pay of $47,500. This does not include substitute teachers or associate teachers. But what about veteran teachers like Rowe?

According to the agreement between the St Johns County School District and the St Johns Education Association (teachers union in St Johns County), there are pay increases based on seniority and continuous employment.

  • Teachers hired prior to July 1, 2002 received $2,500 added to their base salary
  • Teachers hired prior to June 30th, 2007 received $2,000 added to their base salary
  • Teachers hired prior to June 30th, 2012 received $1,850 added to their base salary
  • Teachers hired prior to June 30th, 2017 received $1,650 added to their base salary
  • Teachers hired prior to June 30th, 2021 received $1,500 added to their base salary

But Rowe says that veteran teachers feel ignored by a pay raise increase that is less than the increase in cost of living.

“We’re just kind of left out there and handed what feels like the scraps in the budget at the end of the day,” said Rowe, “and being told we can’t give you more money, it hurts. We give and we give often financially out of our own pockets, everyone knows teachers pay for their own classroom supplies.”

One district north of St Johns County, the residents of Duval County voted to increase their property taxes to bolster teacher pay. That increase will take effect in the 2023-24 school year and will benefit all teachers in the district. Teachers in Duval schools will receive an extra $1,200 so the minimum base pay for a teacher in Duval County will be $48,700 starting in the 2023 school year.

“We are seeing the beginning teacher pay improve dramatically,” Duval Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene told First Coast News in October, “it is the pay for our veteran teachers that we have to continue to be concerned because those dollars [money allocated by state legislature] were mostly focused on new teachers or beginning teachers.”

The desire to mold young minds is the reason teachers like Rowe choose to not quit the teaching profession and find higher paying work.

“The reason we give for staying is our investment in these kids, our commitment to their academic success, to be part of this learning journey for them that’s going to instill this desire to learn throughout their entire lives,” said Rowe.

But there is still a bottom line in their checking account.

“The utility company will not let me pay my water bill with a note that says I teach at the number 1 school district in the state,” added Rowe.

According to the National Education Association, when the minimum salary for teachers in Florida reaches $47,500 Florida will be the 9th highest paying state in the country for new teachers.

Meanwhile, Georgia ranks 37th out of the 50 states with an annual starting teacher salary of $38,692, which is more than $3,000 below the national average.

Here is a link to the legislation that raised the minimum salary for teachers in the state of Florida:

Here is a link to the copy of the contract for Duval Teachers United.

Here is a link to the copy of the contract for St Johns Education Association.

Here is a link to average salaries for teachers state by state.

RELATED: Nassau County teacher, superintendent say ‘A’ grade at risk if property tax increase on ballot fails

RELATED: Yes, at least 94% of teachers report paying for school supplies out of pocket

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