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Okaloosa teachers speak out after pay increase
OKALOOSA COUNTY -- The pay increase Governor Scott promised for Florida teachers is coming through in Okaloosa County. One of the most common things you hear people say about teachers is they don't make enough money. Of course money is hard to come by, especially when its tax dollars are being spent. But Florida teachers got a little something extra this year, courtesy of Governor Rick Scott.
This is Heather Vaughn's kindergarten class at Elliott Point Elementary School. She's been a teacher for nine years.
Heather Vaughn said, "What I really love is just seeing them light up."
Vaughn is Okaloosa County's teacher of the year. But she says her co-workers show the same dedication.
Vaughn said, "Even though we're off the clock at 2:55, my day doesn't end. I don't know...very few if any teachers that can leave and feel great about leaving at that time."
Governor Rick Scott pushed the legislature for hundreds of millions to fund teacher raises. It was up to each school district to decide how the raises would be distributed. In Okaloosa County, most teachers will see a five percent increase. That's a combination of a scheduled contract raise, and a 2.5 percent raise from the state funds.
Nonie Maines said, "I know teachers who have to pull out of their own pockets to buy the kids the most fun activities that they can to keep them engaged."
Nonie Maines from Fort Walton Beach thinks the pay increase is well deserved.
Heather Vaughn hasn't thought about what she'll do with the money, but don't be surprised if she spends some of it on her classroom.
Vaughn said, "It's very validating. I feel like we're really....I feel the appreciation, coming from more than just the students' smiles."
The teacher raises will show up in September paychecks, retroactive back to July.