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Scott signs sweeping education bill

On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott signed a sweeping education that will revamp high school graduation requirements and create two new diploma designations.

The proposal, SB 1076, will also state universities to be designated as "preeminent research universities," and receive additional funding to develop online learning institutes and high-tech degree programs.

"SB 1076 will make sure our children are prepared for college and careers," Gov. Rick Scott said, adding that the move would help fill the more than 260,000 job openings in Florida.

Senate President Don Gaetz, House Speaker Will Weatherford and two dozen lawmakers and education officials were on hand Monday to add their praise. Gaetz, a former schools superintendent, called the new law "the most important piece of legislation I've worked on during my seven years in the Senate."

Despite the unified front, there was some tension beneath the surface.

Scott made several references to the across-the-board pay teacher raises he has made his top budget priority this year. On Sunday night, leaders in the Senate and House agreed to award salary increases to educators, but said they must be tied to performance. 

Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins, who also spoke at Monday's press conference, pointed out that performance pay isn't supposed to start until 2014.

"It is a good time to add to our base salary," she said, expressing the opinion held by the state teachers' union and most superintendents.

Read our earlier story on SB 1076 here.