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August pay bill awaits Bryant

A bill that originated in the Mississippi House of Representatives has been sent to Governor Phil Bryant to be signed into law.

House Bill 71 would allow teachers to receive a full August paycheck despite possibly only working 10 days of school and three days of preparation.

The amount of actual working days has been cut from previous years due to a law that was passed in 2012. The law takes effect in the upcoming school year and says schools can’t start until the third Monday in August, which puts the school start date to Aug. 18, 2014.

House Bill 71 states, “The standard contract for school district employees prescribed by the State Board of Education shall provide that school district employees shall earn a salary payable in equal monthly installments beginning in the first month of employment, regardless of the number of days worked in any particular month by the employee.”

The Mississippi School Board Association said in a press release that “MSBA legal counsel advises that the provisions in this bill do not correct the State Constitutional issue of paying employees for time not worked.”

A teacher’s yearly contract usually begins on Aug. 1 and teachers are paid in 12 equal monthly checks, even though they don’t work in the summer. For a 187-day contract, that means teachers work 16 days each month, if school started on Aug. 1.

The 2012 law was passed as an effort to extend the summer tourism season, which the Gulf Coast Business Council said would raise state tourism spending by $100 million.

The Mississippi Coalition of Educational Organizations, which the MSBA is a part of, said one of it’s legislative priorities this year would be to “restore the authority of local school boards to set the school year start date.”

Representative John Moore, the Education Chair and representative for District 60, introduced House Bill 71 in January, as a way to make sure teachers would get paid for the month of August despite the changes to the school year schedule.

“We’re trying to make sure teachers are receiving compensation that they have received for the last 40 years,” Moore said.

The bill passed the House with a 120-0 vote and passed the Senate with 48-0 vote.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)