Teacher pay-raise bills flood House and Senate

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Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today/ Report for America

Students raise their hands to ask questions as they work to complete a class exercise at Early College High School, located at Tougaloo College, Friday, August 17, 2018.

Will Mississippi teachers see a pay raise this year?

Now that the deadline to introduce general legislation has passed, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have put forth more than a dozen pay-raise bills.

Gov. Phil Bryant has already endorsed the prospect. At his final State of the State address earlier this month, he told legislators: “Send me a bill to authorize a pay raise for these most critical guardians of Mississippi’s future, and I will sign it.”

This year, a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree earns $34,390, although school districts can supplement salaries with their own funds. Teachers in Mississippi are paid according to a salary schedule based on years of experience and education. The minimum salary for assistant teachers is $12,500.

Democrats have criticized Republican leadership for this year’s push. At a Legislative Democratic Caucus press briefing on Wednesday, Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory said legislative leadership has spent the last seven years in office focused on passing “school choice” legislation instead.

“Now it’s an election year, and suddenly they’re for a teacher pay raise?” Bryan asked. “If it weren’t so cynical and tragic, it would be laughable.”

However, in 2014 Bryant did sign a bill into law that gave teachers a $2,500 pay raise and cost the state about $100 million in total. Bryant also signed a separate measure that financially rewards teachers in districts that score an A or B on the state’s grading scale or improves a letter grade.

This year, several bills are currently pending in the Legislature, filed by Democrats and Republicans:

  • SB 2227 – Increase teacher salaries by $2,500 beginning in 2019-20 school year.
  • HB 267 – Increase teacher salaries by $4,000 total. This amount would be phased in over a four year period with $1,000 added each year.
  • HB 268 – Align teacher salaries with the Southeastern average over a five-year period according to the Southern Regional Education Board. In this bill, a brand new teacher with just a bachelor’s degree would earn $36,634.
  • HB 400 – This bill would raise the salaries of assistant teachers in a “recognized postsecondary teacher education program” to the same amount first year teachers licensed teachers earn 
  • HB 651 – Teachers would receive a $2,000 pay increase phased in over four years with $500 each year. 
  • HB 652 – Assistant teachers’ salaries would be increased to a minimum of $15,000 a year. 
  • HB 647 – Would implement a $2,000 teacher pay raise over a two-year period.
  • HB 811 – This bill would increase teacher salaries over a five-year period to align with the Southeastern average according to the Southern Regional Education Board. 
  • HB 844 – Unlike other bills which have specific amounts, this one simply brings forth sections of the Mississippi code concerning salary scales for teachers and assistant teachers so they can possibly be amended. 
  • HB 957 – Would create a $4,000 teacher pay increase over a four-year period.
  • HB 1141 – Would increase the minimum pay for assistant teacher salaries to $14,500.
  • SB 2084 – Creates a $2,000 raise for teachers and assistant teachers. 
  • SB 2146 – Would increase assistant teachers’ salaries to $16,500. 
  • SB 2160 – Teacher salaries would be increased to meet the Southeastern average over a five-year period.
  • SB 2225 – Raise assistant teachers’ salaries to $16,500.