Bill proposes $1,000 increase in Mississippi teacher pay

MGN Online

Mississippi legislators are making their opening bids on an increase in teacher pay, although there may be sweeter offers to come.

Posted: Jan 31, 2019 2:41 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi legislators are making their opening bids on an increase in teacher pay, although there may be sweeter offers to come.

The House Education Committee on Thursday passed House Bill 1349 , which proposes $500 increases in teacher salaries for each of the next two years, for a total of $1,000.

That would boost the starting pay for a teacher with a bachelor's degree from $34,390 now to $35,390 beginning July 1, 2020.

The bill is sponsored by Republican Rep. Charles Busby of Pascagoula. It would also boost the long-frozen salaries of assistant teachers from $12,500 to $13,500 over the same two-year period.

The National Education Association, a teachers union, said Mississippi had the lowest average salary among the states at $42,925 in the 2016-2017 school year. The state Department of Education says the average teacher salary was a little higher, almost $45,000 in 2017-2018.

Teachers in states including Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia have gone on strike during the past year to demand higher pay. Educators in Mississippi have shown no sign that they plan on doing the same.

Senate Bill 2770 proposes the same increases for teachers and assistants, but despite the apparent initial agreement between the chambers, it's unclear if that would be the last word on pay raises. House Education Committee Chairman Richard Bennett, a Long Beach Republican, said discussion over the amount of the pay raise was likely to continue throughout the session.

"I'm hopeful that number is going to go up," Busby said, although he said he hadn't discussed the subject with House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Clinton Republican.

Kelly Riley, who is the executive director of Mississippi Professional Educators, said $500 a year breaks down to only $41.66 a month before taxes.

"This minimalistic salary increase is a slap in the face to Mississippi's teachers who have the future of our state in their classrooms each day," Riley wrote in an email. "While we appreciate the legislature's consideration of a pay raise, any such raise must be significant and must place Mississippi in a competitive position for qualified teachers."

Not even all lawmakers were impressed with the amount.

"That is kind of embarrassing," said state Rep. Becky Currie, a Brookhaven Republican, during the committee meeting.

The House bill also includes proposals intended to alleviate a shortage of Mississippi teachers. One part of the plan would allow retired teachers to return to work at a somewhat lower salary while still drawing state pensions, which supporters said they hoped would help school districts fill more than 1,000 vacancies statewide.

"I think a lot of teachers want to come back and teach, but they want to collect their retirement," Bennett said. "I think this is good way to get them back in a school."

The current plan calls for school districts and returning retirees to pay into the Public Employees Retirement System. But returning teachers wouldn't get additional retirement credits, meaning they would be getting nothing for their contributions. Busby said he was likely to amend the bill to allow returning retirees to be hired as contractors, instead.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
Bolivar4837133
Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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