Governor Scott Proposing 1.2 Billion Education Funding Increase - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Governor Scott Proposing 1.2 Billion Education Funding Increase

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Florida Governor Rick Scott wants to boost education spending by over a billion dollars next year.

Wednesday, Scott outlined the main parts of his proposal before its official release on Thursday.

By now, it's no secret that the Governor wants to increase teacher's salaries by 25 hundred dollars next year; but now the news of overall funding increases has the districts excited, but cautious.

"We haven't been able to do pay increases; we've had to ask teachers to do furlough days. I think for the last four years, we've been in survival mode," said Bay District School's Director of Instruction, Gena Burgans.

It hasn't been easy said Burgans.

A hurting economy forced major education spending cuts at the hand of the then-newly-elected governor.

Now, there's potential for good news.

"We are now in a position to strategically invest in statewide priorities," said Governor Scott, speaking to a room of media professionals on Wednesday.

Scott outlined his plan that will be unveiled the following day.

The budget will include a 1.2 billion dollar funding increase for k-12 public schools; that's roughly 400 dollars more per student. Added to that is a $2,500 salary increase for classroom teachers, for a total of 10.7 billion dollars in funding. According to Scott, it's the largest in history.

"It could be exciting for everyone involved," said Burgans.

She's seen teachers have to deal with an increased load, with no reward.

"You can't keep asking them with the increased testing requirements and all those accountability measures that are on them, and then not offer them incentives in the form of pay raises. We've got to do something for our teachers," she said.

While a pay increase seems so be a solution, it is not yet clear if this increase would continue past 2014.

"There's not money in our budget to sustain that. So, it's a wonderful thing to do for teachers, but we've got to have the money allocated to we can continue to pay that after the first year," said Burgans.

As for the students, funding increases could potentially bring back programs that were forced into hibernation and it's an exciting prospect for the district.

"Hopefully this is a sign that everybody sees how important this is that we steer this ship in a different direction because we absolutely have to do something," said Burgans

After Scott's plan is proposed Thursday, it will be up to the Florida Legislature to approve the funding increases.

The next Legislative session begins March 5th in Tallahassee.