/$1,500 teacher pay raise approved but educators underwhelmed ‘Another election-year-timed symbolic gesture’

$1,500 teacher pay raise approved but educators underwhelmed ‘Another election-year-timed symbolic gesture’

Mississippi News is insufficient for non-profits. It’s a slap on the face. Insulting. This is how educators and advocates describe the $1,500 raise that the Mississippi State Legislature approved on Thursday. Senate Bill 2770 was passed by lawmakers. It gives teachers and assistant teachers raises for a period of one year. Teachers in their first year with a bachelor’s degree are currently paid $34,390, without any district supplement. In 2017-18, the average salary for public school teachers was $44,926 When presenting the bill to the House, Richard Bennett, the education chairman, was candid. The Long Beach Republican said, “It’s certainly not where we want it to be. It’s what can we do.” Joyce Helmick, president of the Mississippi Association of Educators, said that the entire process was insulting and “a telling demonstration of what Mississippi’s state leadership thinks about Mississippi teachers” and students in public schools. Helmick stated that “We see it for what it is: an election-year-timed symbolic gesture.” “And to those who did not choose to stand with Mississippi’s teachers: Please know that we won’t forget about this betrayal come November.” While lawmakers supported a teacher raise prior to the session, the amount was renegotiated as the bill progressed through the legislative process. The original Senate bill demanded a $1,000 increase over two years. The House amended the bill in order to increase the amount of $4,000 that would be paid over two years. The bill was passed to conference. This is where legislators meet in secret to discuss details and then present a report back to their respective chambers. On Thursday, lawmakers approved a $1500 increase for teachers and assistant teachers. They currently earn $12,500. Each of the two senators, Sen. Derrick Simmons (D-Greenville) and Rep. David Baria (D-Bay St. Louis), tried unsuccessfully to recommit their bills to find a higher amount. However, they did not get the votes. Republicans warned that if they didn’t, the bill could be killed. “We have an ongoing crisis in Mississippi public education because the men running our state haven’t made public education a priority,” Baria stated during Wednesday’s news conference. With an 88 to 27 vote, the bill was passed by the House. The bill was passed in the Senate 46-2. Simmons and Sollie Norwood, a Democrat, voted against it. Simmons stated that she supported teacher raises but didn’t believe it was sufficient. Evereth Stanton, president of West Bolivar Consolidated Schools District’s school board, said that the amount is “definitely insufficient”. Stanton stated, “It’s already difficult to attract teachers to Delta.” It’s not enough in any way, shape or fashion. Even with the few dollars they get in raises, they aren’t making any money when it comes insurance, taxes, and everything else. “That way, when they go back and make legislation and laws they’ll actually understand what we go through every day, so they’ll realize $1,500 isn’t worth what they’re giving us.” The pay increase is larger than the one Gov. While Phil Bryant’s budget plan was larger than the Senate’s earlier session, it was still significantly less than previous salary increases approved by lawmakers in prior legislative sessions. The Legislature approved a multi-year, $337 million plan in 2000 that was meant to bring Mississippi teachers up to the Southeastern average. The state was closer to reaching that goal, even though the average Southeastern teacher had increased by six years after the legislation was passed. The current legislative leadership approved a two-year plan to increase teacher pay by $1,500 in the first year and $1,000 in the second year. The total cost of the plan was about $100 million. The governor will now sign the bill that was passed on Thursday. Contributing: Aallyah, Kelsey Davis and Bobby Harrison