Teachers pay raise in the works

Published 2:54 pm Monday, April 1, 2019

Staff and Wire Report

Mississippi lawmakers are moving toward a $1,500 pay raise for teachers beginning July 1.

The state Senate on Thursday voted 46-2 to approve the changes to the pay schedule for teachers starting July 1. Senate Education Committee Chairman Gray Tollison says the increase is expected to cost about $58 million.

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The average public school teacher salary in Mississippi is $50,011 as of February 28, 2019, according to information released by companies who make the data public. The range typically falls between $43,664 and $57,739.

In Batesville and Panola County, the average salary is $53,200. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.

House and Senate negotiators reached the deal on Senate Bill 2770 late Wednesday after days of negotiations. The House must also approve the agreement.

The raise is higher than the pair of $500 increases over two years that Republican leaders initially proposed.

The bill would also boost the long-frozen minimum salaries for assistant teachers from $12,500 to $14,000. The Mississippi Department of Education says there are 31,000 classroom teachers and 3,500 assistants statewide. An additional number of other school personnel with educator licenses would also be covered.

House members had been fighting with the Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves for days over his desire to increase funding for a program that pays for special education students to attend private schools.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman John Read, a Gautier Republican, said Wednesday that he considered the new spending plan a “good budget,” in part because it gives raises and increases some services.

Republican leaders in the House said state agency employees who have gotten no pay raises in the last three years will get a three percent raise, although Democrats warned that many employees who are still poorly paid may see nothing. Pay increases would also be provided to some university and community college employees.

The overall budget will include more than $6 billion in state revenue and more than $20 billion overall including federal money. Clarke said legislators are likely to increase spending of state revenue by $175 million to $200 million over what was in this year’s budget