PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — If a bill currently being considered in the Florida Legislature is passed into law, the state's teachers could see a major increase in their base pay.

What You Need To Know

House Bill 271 is making its way through the Florida Legislature, and, if passed, would increase teachers' base pay to $65,000.

Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association President Nancy Velardi said an increase in pay for Florida teachers is desperately needed, but she didn't believe the bill had a chance of passing.

A previous education funding boost in 2022 increased base pay for teachers to a minimum of $47,500, but even that has been difficult to attain, Velardi said.

“Our counties are having a hard time reaching the $47,500, which was the requirement here in Florida, and many counties still haven’t reached that goal,” she said.

Educators say teacher pay in Florida has been a longstanding issue.

Pinellas Central Elementary School third grade teacher Tracey McConnell Michaels says that while teaching is her passion, she has to maintain side jobs to afford to pay bills. Besides teaching, she also tutors and works part-time at an arts and crafts store.

“I feel like I am gone all the time," Michaels said. "I feel like I am missing the things I would like to be doing with my kids — they are growing quickly."

A teacher for more than 15 years, Michaels makes between $56,000 and $57,000 per year. She welcomed the idea of a big increase in base pay, because she believes it would help lower the turnover rate plaguing Florida schools.

“It’s burning teachers out and it’s making it so that people are leaving," she said. "The average teacher, when they get out of school, isn’t even lasting five years in the classroom, and that’s really sad."

House Bill 271 is currently in the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee for a first reading.