To better recruit and retain quality teachers for Florida's K-12 public schools, Gov. Rick Scott wants the state to spend $58 million in the next budget year on a handful of initiatives -- and those don't include a controversial teacher bonus plan that lawmakers, with Scott's support, have advanced in recent years.
"Teachers are key to preparing our future generations for great careers," Scott said Tuesday when rolling out priorities of his 2017-18 budget proposal during a news conference in Tallahassee. "We have to make investments to recruit and retain the best educators in our classrooms."
Specifically, Scott proposes:
-- $15 million to eliminate initial and renewal certification fees for teachers;
-- $10 million for "a one-time hiring bonus for teachers testing in the top 10 percent of the Subject Area Examination in the subject they are teaching in the 2017-2018 school year";
-- $5 million to "increase the diversity of teachers in critical shortage and high-need areas";
-- $5.9 million to "recruit Bright Futures scholars that major in education and commit to 4 years of teaching following graduation in the rural districts from which they graduate high school";
-- $16 million for school districts to "implement targeted recruitment and retention initiatives that meet the district’s need";
-- And, $6 million to "reward great teachers in low-performing schools."
Lawmakers will need to decide whether to include Scott's recommendations when they formally craft and vote on next year's budget in the upcoming legislative session, which begins in March.