Mississippi senators rushed fast on Wednesday to pass a teacher pay raise measure in a unanimous vote, sending it back to the House for likely discussion in the coming weeks.
The decision occurred just a day after the Senate Education and Appropriations committees adopted a version of the plan that would offer teachers a $4,700 increase over two years on average.
“It’s a plan by teachers, for teachers,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Dennis DeBar, a Leakesville Republican who hosted public hearings on wage rises last year.
Senators awarded DeBar a standing ovation after the vote on Wednesday.
The House has until March 24 to act. It can approve the Senate’s revisions, which would send the bill to Republican Governor Tate Reeves for signature. Alternatively, it might try to reach an agreement with the Senate in final discussions.
DeBar expressed the expectation that the law will be sent to the governor this week, avoiding any possible conflicts over rival tax-cut ideas.
Mississippi has some of the nation’s lowest teacher pay.
According to the Southern Regional Education Board, the average teacher pay in Mississippi for the 2019-20 school year was $46,843. This was lower than the regional organization’s average salary $55,205 for instructors in the 16 states. $64,133 was the national average.
According to the state Department of Education, the starting wage for a Mississippi teacher with a bachelor’s degree is $37,000 for the current school year. Teachers with greater experience and higher degrees are paid more.
Separate proposals were enacted by the House and Senate a few weeks ago to increase teacher compensation by at least $4,000 per year.
Because House committees failed to review the Senate measure before a Tuesday deadline, the two Senate committees altered the House bill and passed it. It now includes the Senate plan as well as a measure to provide teachers’ aides $1,000 increases for two years. The helpers’ income would rise to $17,000 per year as a result. The rise for assistants was included in the House version but not in the Senate proposal.
According to Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, the Senate approved the updated proposal on Wednesday, which would provide teachers an average increase of $4,800 through a two-year phase-in of the basic pay price.
The following is how the Senate bill works:
- Teachers with a bachelor degree in Class A start at $40,000.
- Every year, including in the first three years of teaching, all instructors would get a $500 step raise. Step raises are currently not available until the third year of teaching.
- Teachers would earn a greater raise based on their certification in Years 5, 10, 15, and 20.
- Teachers in Class A (baccalaureate) would be paid $1,325 per year.
- Class AA instructors with a master’s degree would be paid $1,425 per year.
- $1,525 would be awarded to Class AAA (specialist).
- $1,625 would be awarded to Class AAAA (doctoral).
- Teachers would receive a $2,500 raise after 25 years of service.
- Teacher assistants would get a $2,000 boost, bringing their annual salary to $17,000. The rise for assistants was included in the House version but not in the Senate proposal.
The standard income schedule, according to Hosemann, does not include any local or state supplements instructors get, such as additional compensation for moving to critical needs regions or becoming a National Board Certified Teacher.