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.

Confirmed Cases: 116617

Reported Deaths: 3283
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7987178
DeSoto713479
Harrison527284
Jackson462285
Rankin398286
Madison383794
Lee360080
Forrest306978
Jones295784
Washington259299
Lafayette251343
Lauderdale2485135
Lamar227138
Oktibbeha202854
Bolivar201977
Neshoba1854111
Lowndes180262
Panola170240
Leflore168787
Sunflower163449
Warren155156
Monroe152173
Pontotoc147920
Marshall145329
Lincoln141157
Pike139256
Copiah138136
Scott125729
Coahoma125437
Grenada122639
Yazoo122634
Simpson121749
Union119225
Tate117739
Leake115242
Holmes114960
Itawamba114825
Pearl River114560
Adams108944
Prentiss106920
Wayne102022
Alcorn101112
George99919
Covington97927
Marion95443
Tippah91323
Newton86927
Chickasaw85726
Hancock85028
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84421
Tishomingo81641
Attala79726
Clarke76151
Clay70021
Jasper69117
Walthall64027
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59917
Smith59616
Montgomery55223
Yalobusha54914
Claiborne53816
Tunica53517
Lawrence52514
Perry49823
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47714
Humphreys44916
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41211
Webster37613
Benton3456
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32715
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27710
Franklin2463
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 159439

Reported Deaths: 2699
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23443377
Mobile16934315
Tuscaloosa10414140
Montgomery10298197
Madison939496
Shelby743663
Baldwin669469
Lee655065
Calhoun462161
Marshall441150
Etowah431251
Morgan418235
Houston418034
DeKalb346129
Elmore322753
St. Clair299942
Limestone289330
Walker282392
Talladega267435
Cullman250824
Lauderdale231342
Jackson217515
Autauga207431
Franklin206131
Colbert204132
Russell19533
Blount194225
Chilton189332
Dallas187227
Coffee179511
Dale177251
Covington175529
Escambia173030
Clarke135317
Chambers135244
Pike134413
Tallapoosa133087
Marion109729
Barbour10339
Marengo102522
Butler101340
Winston93713
Geneva9167
Lawrence86132
Pickens86018
Bibb84314
Randolph82916
Hale77730
Clay74912
Washington74912
Cherokee74514
Henry7196
Lowndes71428
Bullock64917
Monroe64810
Crenshaw60930
Perry5936
Fayette58413
Cleburne5738
Wilcox57012
Conecuh56113
Macon53720
Lamar5065
Sumter47321
Choctaw39212
Greene34616
Coosa2053
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