Earlier this week Gov. DeSantis announced that he wants the minimum teacher salary in the state of Florida to be $47,500. Such an increase would have an immediate, substantial impact on the local economy. Setting a minimum statewide salary for teachers is unquestionably a good thing.

However, as a pre-k special needs teacher who works at Park Elementary School and has taught in Highlands County for six years with a salary of approximately $40,000, I’m left out of the governor’s proposal. I have dedicated my life to the students of Highlands County, often to my own financial detriment.

Special needs pre-K teachers might start to leave our program and go back to general education to help themselves financially. When that happens, who will teach the special needs children who need this program? This program helps the students catch them up so they may be mainstreamed into general ed and not fall behind.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the governor come up with a plan that ensures that all educators are given a raise. My time and my experience in the classroom have value; my students and their parents can attest to that.

The question that remains is, will the governor and the Legislature also see my value, or will they continue to take the hard work and sacrifice of so many career educators in Florida for granted?

Samantha Figuerres

Avon Park

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