Teacher-raise legislation concerns superintendents

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MIAMI - The Miami-Dade and Broward Schools superintendents voiced their concern Tuesday about legislation regarding teacher pay raises in Florida.

The raises, which were originally proposed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, would not be delivered to teachers for approximately 14 months, according to Alberto Carvalho and Robert Runcie.

"We are appalled over this turn of events in Tallahassee," said Carvalho. "The Governor promised recognition for our teachers, but this new set of restrictions in the Legislature's conforming bill that makes these funds unavailable for 14 months is disappointing."

According to the superintendents, the proposed legislation, which includes $2,500 raises for teachers and $3,500 raises for "highly effective" teachers, as well as raises for principals and assistant principals, would mean deficits rather than increases.

"The math simply does not add up," said Runcie. "With 80 percent of funds earmarked, we will be working at a deficit. School districts are performing well, so the state doesn't need to micromanage them with funding earmarks."

The Legislature is claiming a $134 million increase for Miami-Dade County Public Schools this year, but subtracting $64 million for salary increases, $34 million for McKay Scholarships and $37 million for Florida Retirement System diminishes any increase, according to the county.

The entire salary allocation must be untouched until June 2014.

Superintendents from other Florida school districts have added to the discussion.

"What we need to do is release the money to the districts and ask them to be creative in finding their own models that would get this to our teachers as quickly as possible," said Superintendent of Leon Schools Jackie Pons. "I don't feel like they should have to wait over a year for a raise that they've already earned."

"The promise that was made on the front end is being broken on the back end," said Carvalho.

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