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Friday, May 27, 2022

When Kat DiManno teaches her kindergarten class about plants, she knows she could stand in front of them and just tell them how it all works.

But buying supplies with her own money and building a 3-D model with her students is the kind of thing DiManno does. At least it's the kind of thing she will do until she loses three percent of her pay.

As a public employee, DiManno may have to contribute 3 percent of her annual salary to her retirement as part of the $69.7 billion budget approved by Florida's Congress on Saturday. The budget cut state spending by almost $4 billion.Gov. Rick Scott now has the bill and may either finalize or veto it.

For Alachua County Public Schools, this will mean a net loss of $7.3 million. School Board representative Eileen Roy estimated the state budget cuts would result in a 5 to 10 percent budget loss for county schools.

Wiley Dixon, Gainesville High School principal, said his biggest fear is that retirement-age teachers will leave the profession and college students will see the field as undesirable.

"Unless things turn around, there is going to be a critical teacher shortage in Florida,"he said.

DiManno said that while the automatic deduction of 3 percent of her salary for retirement will have an impact on her lifestyle, it's the loss of professional services contracts that upsets her.

.Not everyone opposes the changes, though. Buchholz High School American government and American history teacher Jared Taber said the effects of the new budget could have been a lot worse.

He expected the cuts and views them as teachers doing their part to help keep the economy afloat.

"It's probably necessary in the times we're in right now," he said.

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