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Some St. Lucie County teachers upset with lack of raises for veteran teachers

Posted at 9:30 AM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 21:59:10-04

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — Some teachers in St. Lucie County are sounding off after Gov. Ron DeSantis made the announcement pledging $800 million toward raising teacher salaries.

David Freeland, president of the Education Association of St. Lucie, said not all $800 million is for new raises for teachers this year.

He said $550 million, or about two-thirds of the money, is for maintaining raises given year-over-year since 2020, when DeSantis pledged to make the minimum starting salary for new teachers $47,500.

That starting salary would put Florida among the highest-paying states for new teachers in the entire country.

Freeland said the remaining $250 million will then be split 50/50 between veteran teachers and new teachers not yet making the new state minimum of $47,500.

"We've had to compress 13 pay slots," said Freeland. "So, politically, it sounds great to say we've raised teacher starting salary in Florida to No. 1 or 2 in the nation. When you do that though, second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. year teachers are still 49th in the country."

Freeland said many veteran teachers with years of experience will now make the same amount as new teachers fresh out of college.

"If I've been teaching for 12 years, and I've got 12 years of experience, including leadership, whatever experience I've gotten in those 12 years, and I come to St. Lucie County, I'm going to be paid exactly the same as that person who is fresh out of college," said Freeland.

DeSantis has voiced publicly that to raise veteran teacher salaries, the state must first raise the floor for new teachers.

Freeland said he disagrees and thinks the philosophy will discourage veteran teachers from remaining in Florida.