/Local districts won’t pay for state’s mistake that left some teachers out of pay raise

Local districts won’t pay for state’s mistake that left some teachers out of pay raise

Officials from the state announced Thursday that local school districts won’t have to figure out a way to pay teachers who were not eligible for a $1500 raise. The Legislature had already appropriated $58million for the raises. The Mississippi Department of Education will use that money to pay all teachers until the 2020 legislative session. Carey Wright, the state superintendent of education, answered reporters when asked if the districts would have to make up the budget gap. “Lord, no, they are not going to have to.” “There’s enough money to pay for the teacher raises until the Legislature meets.” She said that she was very happy with this. Local superintendents discovered that they did not have enough money to raise all their teachers in April. A coding error in Mississippi Department of Education’s information system meant that some gifted teachers, career technical educators, and teacher assistants were not included in the total count. Wright described the coding error at Thursday’s state Board of Education meeting. The Legislature needed to determine how much money they would appropriate to pay for raises. They asked the department how many teachers were being paid federally and how many. Depending on their position, teachers are either paid with federal or state funds. Federally-funded teachers would not have been eligible for a raise. The Mississippi Student Information System (MSIS) was used to code personnel. It codes them with numbers 0-9. MSIS codes are used to identify teachers based on the course they teach. MDE officials mistakenly believed that the codes also indicated the source of funding. Wright stated that MSIS doesn’t have the ability to determine whether you are federally funded. “We don’t know how it is done at the local level, so we don’t have any way to do that,” Wright said. The department will present a plan to upgrade the system to the state Board of Education in June. Wright stated that while the Legislature provided $500,000 to the department for upgrades this session, Wright claimed that it is just “seed money”. Gov. Phil Bryant, and Lt. Governor. Tate Reeves and Phil Bryant both suggested that additional funds could be used as a deficit appropriation in the 2020 legislative session which begins in January. Bryant cannot run for reelection because of term limits, and Reeves will be running for governor. Wright stated that she didn’t know the exact amount of the deficit appropriation as the department is still reviewing information from school districts. The Mississippi Department of Education reached out to each district to find out how many teachers were federally funded, and what amount was used to pay them. She said that the department hopes to have a better understanding by next week. She said that she doesn’t know until all the information is back in how teachers are coded.