Gov. Rick Scott touts teacher pay raises at Tampa's Alexander Elementary School stop

11:38 AM, May 10, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- With a big Tallahassee accomplishment under his belt, Governor Rick Scott headed to Tampa's Alexander Elementary School on Friday morning.

It was the last of five stops Scott is making around the state to play up the pay raises he landed for teachers.

It felt like a campaign stop, complete with politicians and a marching band. It even had a campaign name, the "Teacher Pay Raise Victory Tour."

But at the podium, Gov. Scott sounded more like a sincere parent than a political salesman.

"Do they deserve a pay raise?" he softly asked the students gathered in front of the stage in the school's cafeteria. "Yes," the elementary schoolers answered in unison.

Scott sung the praises of teachers and of lawmakers in Tallahassee, who approved almost nearly half a billion dollars to give raises to Florida's grade school educators. The amount is expected to range from $2,500 to $3,500 each.

After the rally, Scott defended his decision to tie all of those raises to teacher evaluations, instead of giving them out across the board.

"The Legislature went along this year. We're approving our evaluation program for teachers, because we're going to make it far to our teachers," he said. "Our teachers want to be measured. They want to be the best."

Each district will decide how to divide up the money for its educators, often after negotiations with teachers' unions.

Hillsborough Superintendent MaryEllen Elia says she believes each county will work out a fair way to match the extra cash for each teacher to his or her abilities.

"Teachers are used to grading. They've been doing it for centuries," Elia said. "And they're used to looking at data and making decisions on what needs to be done to improve."

The money becomes available July 1. But a lot of districts have to figure out how they're going to divvy it up. So it could be several months before teachers start seeing these raises in their paychecks.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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