Senate passes $1,000 teacher raise, seeks to pay as bonus

Mississippi's state senators on Wednesday voted to advance a plan that would raise public school teacher salaries by $500 a year over two years, for a total of $1,000.

Posted: Feb 13, 2019 7:33 PM
Updated: Feb 14, 2019 9:44 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's state senators on Wednesday voted to advance a plan that would raise public school teacher salaries by $500 a year over two years, for a total of $1,000.

The unanimous vote on Senate Bill 2770 came despite continued questions about whether the state could afford more. The package is projected to cost more than $100 million over two years.

"What do I say to my constituents who say our educator pay raise is a joke and it equals only $50 a month and you're just doing this because it's an election year?" asked Sen. Derrick Simmons, a Greenville Democrat.

Senators on Wednesday amended the proposal to pay the raise to teachers at one time as a bonus. Republican Sen. David Parker of Olive Branch and Democratic Sen. Angela Turner-Ford of West Point argued teachers would appreciate the money more in one lump sum and would think more fondly of lawmakers.

"That would be a help they would appreciate and they would see a lot more," Turner-Ford said.

In addition to teachers, the measure would also boost the long-frozen salaries of assistant teachers from $12,500 to $13,500 over the same two-year period. The Mississippi Department of Education says there are 31,000 teachers and 3,500 assistants statewide. An additional number of certified counselors and librarians would also be covered.

The Senate rejected an amendment proposed by Democratic Sen. David Blount of Jackson to abolish the state's program that pays bonuses to some teachers at schools that get an A or B or improve a letter grade in the state's rating system. Blount wanted to use the $25 million spent on that program this year to boost raised to $2,000 total, or $1,000 each year.

The bill moves to the House, which has been considering a proposal for an identical raise, but it's unclear whether that amount will be the last word on the subject. Some lawmakers have said discussion on the amount of the proposed pay raise would continue throughout the session.

Democrats and teacher groups have been deriding the pay plan as too small, but Republicans said that's what the state can afford, considering other needs.

"I think many in here support giving as much pay raise as we can offer," said Sen Brice Wiggins, a Pascagoula Republican. There are other things in the budget we have to look at."

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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 537813

Reported Deaths: 11024
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson791691529
Mobile41177808
Madison35002507
Tuscaloosa25871454
Shelby25076249
Montgomery24549591
Baldwin21290309
Lee15946171
Calhoun14556319
Morgan14364280
Etowah13890353
Marshall12262223
Houston10602282
Elmore10115206
Limestone10031151
St. Clair9890245
Cullman9730194
Lauderdale9449243
DeKalb8853188
Talladega8325176
Walker7259277
Autauga6971108
Jackson6830112
Blount6750139
Colbert6317134
Coffee5546119
Dale4869113
Russell444338
Chilton4343113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4040152
Escambia394577
Chambers3581123
Dallas3564153
Clarke351361
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302298
Winston275673
Bibb263064
Geneva252577
Marengo249664
Pickens234862
Barbour231956
Hale223677
Butler217869
Fayette212462
Henry189644
Cherokee184345
Randolph182042
Monroe178140
Washington167639
Macon160750
Clay156957
Crenshaw153357
Cleburne149241
Lamar143035
Lowndes139653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123041
Conecuh110629
Coosa108928
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 80°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
78° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 79°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 75°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 78°
High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast for this weekend. This will keep our area filled with plenty of sunshine. However, there will be some changes next week in our weahter forecast as low pressure brings back some chances for showers and thunderstorms.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather