/Republican-backed $1,000 teacher pay hike clears hurdle Democrats ask ‘Is this a joke’

Republican-backed $1,000 teacher pay hike clears hurdle Democrats ask ‘Is this a joke’

Nonprofit Mississippi News. The Mississippi State Senate approved a bill to increase the salaries of public school teachers. But some feel it is not enough. Senate Bill 2770 was passed by the Senate on Wednesday. This bill will raise teacher salaries across the board by $1,000 over two-years. The bill would allow teachers to receive $500 and $500 each year, respectively, if it is signed into law. This will cost the state $50 million per year when the increase is fully implemented. A first-year teacher who has a bachelor’s degree currently earns $34,390. However, school districts have the option to supplement their salaries with their own money. According to the annual report of the state superintendent, the average salary for public school teachers was $44,926, in 2017-18. According to the state superintendent’s annual report, teachers in Mississippi are paid according a salary schedule that is based on their education and years of experience. Under the Senate bill, assistant teachers would also receive a $1,000 increase in their minimum salary. There was some disagreement over how the dollars would be distributed. Gray Tollison (R-Oxford) presented the bill. He argued that giving the raise in one paycheck would cause a “logistical nightmare.” However, an amendment was passed which would give the raise to teachers in December in a lump sum. Sen. David Parker (R-Olive Branch) stated that “I believe that if they were able to give the amount at once to our teachers, they would get more out of it than if just giving them incremental amounts each time.” Some Democrats were skeptical about the reason for the raise. Sen. Derrick Simmons (D-Greenville) asked, “What can I tell my constituents — this educational pay increase bill is a joke?” “Fifty dollars a month is less than $500 per year, and you are all doing this just in an election year. All of you aren’t serious about raising teacher pay. Tollison responded that the Legislature had already given a $2,500 raise for teachers in 2014. National Board Certification teachers can earn an additional $6,000 per year. Mississippi also has a school recognition program, which rewards teachers who score A or B on the state’s scale of grading or improve a letter grades. This was something Senator David Blount (D-Jackson) tried to repeal in an amendment. Blount suggested scrapping the program and using $25 million per year of funds allocated to it to double the amount for the teacher raise to $2,000 in total. Tollison and the other senators claimed that there wasn’t enough money to support this raise each year. The Mississippi Association of Educators stated that the bill was an “embarrassment” and “insulting.” The statement stated that teachers should be paid a raise that is fair to their state and legislators instead gave them another symbolic gesture. The statement said that the bill’s passage was not only disrespectful, but also shows legislators don’t take seriously the dire state of Mississippi education and Mississippi teachers. “We have teachers working two or three jobs and trying to scrape by on our paychecks to survive,” the association stated. The House still has to take up its counterpart. The deadline for HB 1349 to pass must be met by Thursday or it will go off the calendar. The Senate bill now heads to the House for consideration.