Jeff Solochek at the Tampa Bay Times’ education blog Gradebook has reported that while education budget negotiators from both the Florida House and Senate agreed to establish the Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program that would annually supplement K-12 teachers’ pay based in part on the SAT or ACT scores the teachers themselves earned in high school, the Senate side has been arguing for a level of funding that is 90% lower than the House’s proposal. The House has been proposing the same appropriation level on which both chambers agreed during the regular session.
The House education budget negotiators, led by Rep. Erik Fresen, have been holding out for an appropriation of $45.45 million, which would provide 4,545 teachers with bonuses of $10,000 each. That was the level agreed to by both the House and Senate during the regular session. The Senate had been holding firm at $5 million, which according to proviso language would be enough to provide each of 1,000 teachers with bonuses of $5,000 each. However, the language also specifies that if more than 1,000 teachers are eligible that the available money would be divided equally among all of them. If 4,000 teachers are eligible (as is hypothesized in the House proposal), the Senate funding level would only provide $1,250 for each teacher.
Solochek reported that there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the proposal in the Senate. This represents progress over the regular session, when the Senate was ready to go along with the full $45 million House proposal.