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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.

Confirmed Cases: 34622

Reported Deaths: 1215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds269748
DeSoto181818
Madison138236
Jones117349
Harrison104014
Rankin103515
Neshoba102274
Lauderdale94281
Forrest93943
Scott79215
Jackson72717
Washington64310
Copiah63115
Leake61320
Lee58621
Holmes57341
Oktibbeha56828
Wayne55416
Warren55320
Yazoo5436
Grenada5357
Lowndes52613
Leflore52256
Lincoln50935
Lamar5027
Pike47020
Sunflower4528
Lafayette4374
Monroe43635
Covington4195
Panola3996
Bolivar38018
Attala37524
Simpson3733
Newton35710
Adams34019
Pontotoc3266
Tate32313
Marion31312
Claiborne29310
Chickasaw29219
Winston28711
Pearl River27632
Noxubee2758
Marshall2693
Jasper2676
Clay25511
Union23811
Smith23412
Walthall2267
Coahoma2156
Clarke21425
Lawrence1992
Yalobusha1938
Kemper18014
Carroll17311
Tallahatchie1664
Humphreys15910
Montgomery1493
Calhoun1475
Tippah14411
Itawamba1418
Hancock13813
Webster12811
Tunica1193
Jefferson1173
Jefferson Davis1164
Prentiss1123
Greene10810
Amite1063
George1023
Wilkinson959
Tishomingo921
Quitman891
Alcorn852
Perry764
Choctaw754
Stone732
Franklin492
Benton420
Sharkey420
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6030162
Mobile4418137
Montgomery4339109
Tuscaloosa254448
Madison19078
Marshall186611
Shelby150924
Lee149437
Morgan12205
Baldwin111410
Walker105127
Elmore98919
Dallas9639
Franklin92216
Etowah88214
DeKalb8416
Chambers65727
Russell6570
Autauga65313
Butler64328
Tallapoosa61669
Unassigned58626
Limestone5741
Houston5526
Cullman5395
Lauderdale5376
Lowndes48022
St. Clair4692
Colbert4656
Pike4595
Escambia4528
Calhoun4365
Coffee4074
Covington39911
Jackson3742
Bullock37010
Barbour3672
Dale3621
Talladega3497
Hale33722
Marengo33011
Wilcox2968
Clarke2946
Winston2893
Chilton2872
Sumter28512
Blount2731
Pickens2556
Monroe2492
Marion24514
Randolph2449
Conecuh2277
Perry2091
Bibb2081
Macon2069
Choctaw20212
Greene1928
Henry1433
Crenshaw1273
Washington1277
Lawrence1170
Cherokee1127
Geneva920
Lamar811
Fayette781
Clay742
Coosa621
Cleburne411
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