Sen. Stephen Wise (left) told lobbyists for the Florida Education Association and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards that he'd quickly get with them to see if they couldn't work out some agreement over funding bonuses for National Board-certified teachers.
Wise had just won unanimous approval for a bill (SB 1746) that would cut - some would say gut - the budget for the 10-year-old program that rewards teachers who successfully complete a rigorous national certification process.
A week later, the teachers' representatives were still waiting.
"I have not heard from Senator Wise," said National Board lobbyist Mac Stipanovich (right), who added that he has left messages indicating that his is standing by "to work out the solution that (Wise) suggested is in the offing."
Stipanovich noted the bill and its House counterpart (HB 5083) head to their respective floors Wednesday with enough substantial differences between them that they'll need to go to conference if they pass. He held out hope that enough time remains to find a remedy for "this injustice and bad public policy."
FEA spokesman Mark Pudlow said he understood that some changes might emerge during floor debate. Already, Wise has submitted an amendment that would, among other things, allow school districts to pay for the fees that the state would stop covering. (An interesting answer during a time when pending budget cuts are forcing districts to consider layoffs.)
Pudlow, like Stipanovich, figured it would take negotiations between the two bodies before any agreement arises. Both lobbyists looked forward to a positive (for teachers) outcome.
"It would be a tragedy if the only teacher merit pay plan I have ever seen work ... were terminated," Stipanovich said.