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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate will seek to 'take some of the edges off' controversial teacher bonuses

The Florida Capitol in Tallahassee

Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau

The Florida Capitol in Tallahassee



David Simmons, the Senate's pre-K-12 education budget chairman, elaborated slightly on Thursday about the Legislature's intent to expand the controversial "Best & Brightest" teachers bonuses into a potentially quarter-of-a-billion-dollar program next year aimed at incentivizing more teachers to join and stay in the profession.

MORE: "$200 million for teacher incentives? Florida lawmakers crafting plan to do it"

During another meeting of his committee, Simmons indicated that the crux of "Best & Brightest" might still remain but that the Senate will seek to "take some of the sharp edges off."

He said qualifying criteria for the expanded teachers incentives could perhaps include "other avenues, such as a grade point average" and "something that would deal with the principal's own assessment, as to those who deserve to be rewarded for hard work and improvement of their students."

Members of the Senate Pre-K-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee will get a draft plan of the proposal in "the next several days," Simmons said.

Asked by the Herald/Times, Simmons wouldn't say where the money might come from to pay for the expansion or if another education program might have to sacrifice in the process.

"I think we pay for it because we need to pay for it," Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said, referencing a looming nationwide teachers shortage. "I think there’s $250 million in the budget to pay for this."

"I’m not concerned that we’re talking about $200-250 million," he added. "It’s an investment, it’s not an expenditure, and I think we can find it in an $83 billion budget."

A quarter of a billion dollars is about three-tenths of 1 percent of the total state budget and, more specifically, about 1 percent of the state’s $23.4 billion pre-K-12 budget.

In case you missed it, more details here.

*This article has been updated.

[Last modified: Thursday, February 16, 2017 3:20pm]


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