Florida school districts that have struggled with multi-million-dollar budget cuts and teachers who’ve gone years sans raises are being offered some hope courtesy of Florida’s Republican governor.
Rick Scott is calling on the state’s legislature to approve a budget that includes an extra $1.2 billion in funding for public schools. Some of that money would help fund across-the-board raises of $2,500 for the state’s teachers. The overall plan would also boost per-student funding by about 6.5 percent, according to TBO.com.
"Investing in our teachers and in our education system is the key to our state's continued economic growth," Scott said in the TBO piece. "We made the hard choices to recover and get back on track — now we must make the smart choices to invest in Florida's future."
Scott’s plan, however, has some people raising their eyebrows. Just two years ago, he recommended cutting education funding. Now he’s stepping forward with an olive branch.
Hillsborough County School Board chairwoman April Griffin is among the nonbelievers, according to The Huffington Post.
"I really think this is a ploy on our governor's part to try to bring up his dismal approval rating," the Post quoted Griffin as saying. “We've seen our governor's agenda for the past four years, so pardon us if we are a tad bit skeptical.
“It has not been public-school friendly.”
Whether the governor’s proposal will make it through the Republican-controlled legislature is also in doubt. What is clear, however, is that Scott is up for reelection in 2014 and his approval numbers are anything but stellar. In fact, a recent poll shows he’d lose to former Gov. Charlie Crist if Crist threw his name into the arena.
So, what do you think Tampa Bay? Is Gov. Scott truly trying to invest in Florida’s future or is this just a PR stunt? Does it matter if the end result is an increase in funding for education? Share your thoughts in the comments section.