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Lawmakers want teacher raises based on merit; not Scott's $2,500 plan

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Updated: 4/22/2013 6:33 pm
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Fla. Gov. Rick Scott isn't going to succeed in getting $2,500 pay raises for the state's teachers.

Florida legislators meeting over the weekend have settled on setting aside nearly $500 million to boost teacher pay. But House and Senate budget negotiators made it clear they will not hand out raises the way Scott wanted.

Instead, legislators will push ahead with a proposal to base the raises on teacher performance. They also plan to offer raises to beyond classroom teachers - a move which could also lower the amount offered to each employee.

Scott had made the across-the-board teacher pay raise one of his top priorities for the 2013 session. But legislators signaled their reluctance with the proposal from the start.

Meanwhile, Duval School Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti says he's pleased with the legislative session so far.  "I think it's been a positive session.  I think this session represents what cooperation really should look like," he said.

Monday, Governor Rick Scott signed new legislation that accomplishes several things, including offering graduating seniors industry certifications in more than 200 professions.

Dr. Vitti supported that idea.

"I've been saying over and over again, we have to treat our children like human beings and not widgets," said Dr. Vitti.  "They're all multi-talented, multi-faceted, and we should have a diploma that reflects that."

The new legislations requires financial literacy to be taught in high schools. "What does credit mean? How do you build credit? How do you save money? Why you can't use a credit card any time you want?" asked Vitti.

And while the new legislation does promise bonuses for teachers, it's not the $2500 pay raise for which the Governor is still pushing. The bonuses would be merit based.

"We need to treat our teachers like we love them," said Gov. Scott.  "An across-the-board pay raise is a great thing for our teachers, a great thing for our students."

Dr. Vitti says Duval County has already given teachers a raise. And when it comes to bonuses, he'll have to pass them out the way the legislature tells him to.  But at the end of the day, he's happy with the education decisions being made in Tallahassee.

"So far, a good session," he said.  "And I think representative of what should happen down the road."
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