Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed education budget initiatives that included a boost in minimum teacher salaries and continued bonuses for teachers and principals at a press conference in Jacksonville Wednesday.
DeSantis, joined by Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, announced he is seeking a $600 million education budget increase to raise minimum teacher salaries for a third straight year, give $1,000 bonuses to teachers and principals for a second straight year, and raise per-student spending to its highest level in state history.
“Since day one, I have been focused on making Florida a leader in education, and I am proud to announce my proposals to invest record funding into our education system over the next year,” DeSantis said at the press conference. “By continuing to boost teacher pay, give bonuses to principals and teachers, prioritize workforce education, foster a strong civics curriculum, and replace the FSA with progress monitoring, we’re making a significant difference in the lives of our students.”
The conference came a day after DeSantis and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton awarded $481 million to 103 wastewater and springs projects throughout the state aimed at reducing nitrogen loading.
The proposal for the FY 2022-2023 education budget recommendation includes increases in funding for both educators and students:
- A second round of $1,000 bonus checks for 177,000 teachers and principals in Florida and a $600 million – a $50 million budget increase over the past year – for teacher pay, continuing Florida’s efforts to reach a minimum starting teacher salary of $47,500.
- An increase in per-student funding to raise this year’s budget to $8,000 per student.
- A $421 million for school safety and mental health initiatives. That funding includes $210 million for the safe schools program – an increase of $30 million over the previous year, $140 million for mental health – a $20 million increase over the previous year, $42 million for school hardening grants, and $4 million for safety initiatives at Jewish Day Schools.
Three new proposals include:
- Fully eliminating the Florida Standards Assessment and implementing progress monitoring in its place, with $15.5 million in recurring funding to provide progress monitoring tools to schools.
- $500,000 to expand access to the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative into every school district in the 2022-2023 school year, which is in addition to $106 million announced earlier this year to provide teacher bonuses for earning a Florida Civics Seal of Excellence.
- To make Florida the No. 1 state for Workforce Education by 2030 with $534 million in funding to support workforce education programs is included in the proposed budget. The proposed budget includes $100 million for the Workforce Development Capitalization Grant Program to create and expand workforce development programs at Florida’s school districts and state colleges.
“I am incredibly thankful for the bold commitment Governor DeSantis has made to make Florida the Education State,” Corcoran said. “We must continue to act with urgency in seeking innovative ways to improve the quality of education we provide students. As Florida continues to be a national leader in education, these historic investments will undoubtedly help us focus on the individual needs of students to help them grow academically.”