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: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
Lauderdale7253242
Lowndes6488149
Lamar632288
Lafayette6295120
Washington5412136
Bolivar4833133
Panola4659110
Oktibbeha465898
Pearl River4591146
Marshall4571105
Warren4436121
Pontotoc424573
Union415576
Monroe4154135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock385187
Leflore3514125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn323272
Scott319274
Yazoo313971
Adams304785
Itawamba304777
Copiah299666
Coahoma298283
Simpson297889
Tippah291168
Prentiss283361
Leake271674
Marion271280
Covington266683
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251851
Newton248563
Tishomingo230867
Winston229881
Jasper222048
Attala214973
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
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