Proposed teacher pay hike 'extraordinarily happy' announcement for UCF educators

Dean: $47,500 starting salary may attract unqualified teachers

ORLANDO, Fla. – Any teacher will tell you it's not about the money, said Pamela "Sissi" Carroll, Dean of the University of Central Florida's College of Community Innovation & Education. Teachers teach because they love to do it.

But now, with Gov. Ron DeSantis asking the Florida Legislature to approve his budget request to raise starting pay for new teachers to $47,500, it may become about the money, at least for some looking to get into the education profession.

"So that's a little bit of a concern for us," Carroll said. "If teaching becomes very attractive kind of overnight where we have an influx of people who see it as a great job, but they haven't planned it as a career." 

Overall, Carroll is excited about the pay hike proposal.

She calls it "one of the biggest" positive developments for teachers in her decadeslong education career.

"It's an extraordinarily happy announcement, especially to know the governor is paying close attention to the idea that teachers need to be paid more," Carroll said.

Already there's been talk within UCF's Innovation and Education department about a potential influx of students looking to become teachers.

Carroll said the trend over the past 10 years is for students to shy away from teaching largely because of the low pay.

"Florida as a whole has been pretty low in terms of what states pay beginning teachers," Carroll said. "And another problem is there's not much of an increase year after year for what teachers are paid."

DeSantis said Monday Florida is ranked 26th in new teacher pay.

"We are going to propose taking Florida in terms of the minimum salary for every teacher in the state from the bottom half of the 50 states to the top five," DeSantis said. "In fact, our initiative would take Florida based on the 2018 figures from #26 to #2 in terms of starting salary."

DeSantis said statewide, more than 100,000 teachers would see pay increases. Current teachers making below $47,500 per year in base pay would see raises to that level.

On Tuesday afternoon, six Central Florida school districts sent News 6 their current base starting salaries:

Marion County: $39,050
Volusia County: $39,142
Orange County: $40,000
Seminole County: $40,000
Flagler County: $40,605
Osceola County: $41,400

But DeSantis' proposal includes no salary increase for veteran teachers.

Carroll said that's another potential pitfall of DeSantis' proposal.

"One other concern I've heard today is the potentially demoralizing impact on veteran teachers, those who have been working for 10 years and may be making around what these beginning teachers would start with," Carroll said.

She'd like to see DeSantis incorporate raises for teachers based on their responsibilities, not just on experience or education.

DeSantis said his proposal was just the first of several teacher initiatives.

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