SUNRISE, FLA. (WSVN) - Educators in South Florida are calling for more public school funding one day after the state’s governor unveiled a plan to give teachers and principals bigger bonuses.
The Fund Our Future bus was greeted by a school band and dozens of school officials wearing red “Strong Public Schools” T-shirts on Friday at one of its scheduled tour stops in Sunrise after driving across Broward County.
Organizers said the event is part of a push to fight for teacher raises and a brighter future.
“Our public schools are what we are here for,” said Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union as she addressed attendees.
“Our teachers have had enough, and they’re coming to Tallahassee to let lawmakers know that at the end of the day, we love our profession, we love our schools, we love our children, and we’re willing to fight for it,” said Fred Ingram, president of the Florida Education Association. “That’s what we’re doing. We’re going all around the state.”
The bus has been on the road for a month and is scheduled to head to 30 counties and make 50 stops by next week.
“We’ve got to have our teachers focus on what we’ve hired them to do, and that’s giving their very best every day to our kids,” said Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, “and that becomes very difficult if you’re struggling to pay the bills and make ends meet. Teaching is a profession, and it is time that we begin to treat it like a profession: compensate them for the value that they’re providing.”
The Sunrise bus stop takes place one day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a new teacher and principal bonus program that would replace the state’s current Best and Brightest Teacher Program that awards bonuses based on student test scores.
“Let’s just do a strong bonus program for not only teachers but for principals, and we’re proposing to do that at the tune of $300 million,” said DeSantis at a news conference, Thursday.
The new bonus program would be in addition to the $600 million that would increase a starting teacher’s salary to $47,500.
It remains unclear whether state lawmakers will agree to DeSantis’ ideas. However, for district officials, teachers and union leaders, some discussion is a step in the right direction.
“We all realize that we’re all in this together, and we have to do what’s right,” said Runcie. “We can do better. We must do better in the state of Florida.”
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