Teacher raise

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 6, 2014

On Wednesday the Mississippi Senate passed Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ plan for increasing teacher salaries starting July 2015.

The plan would increase the starting salary for public school teachers from $30,900 to $34,390.

Reeves’ teacher pay raise plan includes not only a raise for current teachers and an increase in teachers’ starting salary, but also the implementation of an academic reward program for schools.

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“This plan establishes the first true merit pay plan in Mississippi while making teacher starting pay competitive with surrounding states,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said in a press release. “The overwhelming support for this plan shows it addresses the concerns many educators had about pay discussions at the Capitol. I hope it can become law quickly, so teachers can see results by the start of the budget year in July.”

According to the release, starting in the 2017 Fiscal Year, the School Recognition Program would reward schools that continue to move up the school-rating ladder with additional stipends.

Schools that improve a grade level under the state’s accountability model would earn them $100 per student. Schools that maintain a rating of “A” each year would earn $100 per student and schools that maintain a “B” rating would receive $75 per student.

The School Recognition Program is the first true merit pay program in the state’s history.

According to a press release from Reeves, the higher starting salary combined with local salary supplements provided by most school districts could result in some teachers earning $40,000 in their first year of teaching.

The salary scale would also increase by $1,500 starting in July 2014 and $1,000 in July 2015, Reeves said.

The House passed their own teacher pay raise plan in early February that stated teachers with five years or more of teaching experience must meet certain requirements to merit a pay raise. The Senate plan doesn’t include these requirements.

A single plan must be agreed on before the matter can be approved by Gov. Phil Bryant. Either the House must accept the Senate’s plan or the two chambers will have to negotiate to create another plan.

Pearl River County School District Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said he approves of any legislation that would increase teacher salaries, but he favors the Senate pay raise plan over the House plan.

“Our teacher evaluation system is rigorous enough without adding criteria to it as a rubric for teacher pay raises. Our teachers deserve a pay raise right now without meeting the additional criteria,” Lumpkin said.

In a previous Picayune Item article, Picayune School District Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said teacher pay raises are long overdue.