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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: 514171

Reported Deaths: 10285
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34920557
DeSoto33270432
Hinds32652642
Jackson24876391
Rankin22516404
Lee16366245
Madison14932283
Jones14129247
Forrest13785260
Lauderdale12279324
Lowndes11314193
Lamar10663140
Pearl River9720244
Lafayette8855143
Hancock7839132
Washington7553169
Oktibbeha7216138
Monroe7036179
Pontotoc7003109
Warren6872178
Panola6768135
Neshoba6732210
Marshall6686142
Bolivar6451151
Union640898
Pike5933156
Alcorn5887107
Lincoln5533136
George510380
Prentiss505385
Tippah492783
Itawamba4857107
Scott478199
Adams4771125
Tate4765117
Leflore4736144
Copiah457095
Yazoo456692
Simpson4554117
Wayne443172
Covington434695
Sunflower4315106
Marion4279112
Coahoma4238109
Leake414090
Newton395782
Tishomingo384894
Grenada3777109
Stone365766
Jasper340866
Attala338790
Winston317892
Chickasaw316167
Clay312578
Clarke301295
Calhoun285949
Holmes271889
Smith269452
Yalobusha244247
Tallahatchie232053
Greene224749
Walthall221866
Lawrence219141
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster206248
Noxubee188743
Montgomery181857
Carroll174941
Jefferson Davis173843
Tunica163339
Benton153139
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134439
Humphreys132139
Franklin126029
Quitman107628
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845761

Reported Deaths: 16119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161862004
Mobile742411381
Madison53315732
Shelby38351369
Baldwin38104589
Tuscaloosa36052641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25590263
Calhoun22598518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20026518
Marshall18790316
Houston17741425
St. Clair16904358
Limestone16153219
Cullman16067303
Elmore15912294
Lauderdale14991306
Talladega14209299
DeKalb12985269
Walker12067380
Blount10729192
Autauga10526157
Jackson10170194
Coffee9425192
Colbert9341208
Dale9024192
Tallapoosa7273201
Russell708865
Chilton7042170
Escambia6956143
Covington6943195
Franklin6338108
Chambers5785142
Marion5413130
Dallas5295209
Pike5123109
Clarke484886
Lawrence4831129
Winston4780110
Geneva4643136
Bibb434594
Barbour369980
Butler3439100
Marengo342393
Monroe337466
Randolph334867
Pickens333988
Fayette330085
Henry320766
Hale318489
Cherokee318363
Crenshaw260777
Washington256952
Cleburne254560
Lamar251953
Clay251169
Macon245064
Conecuh193162
Coosa185547
Lowndes178268
Wilcox177638
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast for the next few days. This will keep our area on the dry side and on the unseasonably warm side for this time of the year. We will see most high temperatures well into the 70s over the next few afternoons.
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