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Teacher pay raise bill goes to governor

PAY RAISE: Mississippi teachers could receive a $2,500 pay raise over the next two years if the governor signs House Bill 504 into law.  Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

PAY RAISE: Mississippi teachers could receive a $2,500 pay raise over the next two years if the governor signs House Bill 504 into law.
Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

House Bill 504, which would give Mississippi teachers a pay raise, passed the House of Representatives and Senate Tuesday afternoon and has been sent to Governor Phil Bryant.

If the bill were signed into law, starting salary for teachers would increase from $30,900 to $34,390. The salary scale would increase by $1,500 in July 2014 and $1,000 in July 2015. Subsequent raises would be based on merit.

The bill also established the School Recognition Program to start in the 2017 Fiscal Year. The program pays schools extra funds per student if the school is rated an “A” or “B.”

Schools that improve a grade level or remain rated “A” under the state’s accountability model would earn $100 per student. Schools that remain rated as “B” would receive $75 per student.

“The School Recognition Program will reward those teachers who work hard to raise academic achievement among students,” said Lt. Gov. Reeves in a press release. “The plan also makes Mississippi more competitive to attract the best and brightest teachers out of college.”

Money earned from The School Recognition Program would be split among all teachers and employees of the school with the exception of principals.

According to a press release from the Senate, some teachers could earn $40,000 their first year due to a combination of local salary supplements and the pay raise.

Both the House and Senate passed their own versions of a teacher pay raise bill in February and March. The February version of the House bill included a stipulation that teachers with five years or more of teaching experience must meet certain requirement to receive a pay raise.

The Senate bill that passed in March didn’t include the same requirements as the House bill and instead established The School Recognition Program.

Both Pearl River County School District Superintendent Alan Lumpkin and Picayune School Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said they are happy teachers will be receiving a raise.

“We’re going to be happy with any type of pay raise, especially one that doesn’t have any criteria attached to it because teachers deserve a raise,” Lumpkin said referring to the earlier House bill that required teachers meet three of the 23 requirements set forth in the bill.

Harrell said The School Recognition Program sounded like a good concept, but wouldn’t make any further comment on the program until he read the legislation.