Mississippi Teacher Pay Raise In Danger

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(DeSoto County, MS) Lee Weaver says it’s obvious to him Mississippi teachers work hard and get results.

He also says it’s obvious they don’t make enough money,.

"I’ve noticed it myself, just from my children that they’re doing a very good job and I believe the deserve more.”

When the Mississippi House of Representatives voted down the Senate's version of a teacher pay raise Tuesday, Weaver said it came as a shock.

It also shocked teachers.

”We have not had a pay raise in seven years. As a matter of fact, a lot of our teachers across the state have received pay cuts,” said Joyce Helmick, who is with the Mississippi Association of Educators.

She says some districts cut their local supplements, and some even laid teachers off.

That’s especially bad in areas where schools are failing.

"We have some areas where there is absolutely a critical shortage of teachers,” said
Helmick, who holds out hope the House and Senate might work out a deal in conference, but she’s not holding her breath.

”We need this pay raise in order to recruit and retain the best and brightest teachers in our schools across the state.”

House Speaker Phillip Gunn said in a statement:

The reasons we do not agree with the Senate plan include:

1. The merit pay proposal is unconstitutional.*

2. The Senate Plan includes a smaller total amount than the House Plan: $2,500 vs. $4,250.

3. The Senate Plan supports lower starting salaries for teachers overall: $34,390 vs. $35,150.

4. The Senate’s merit plan disincentivizes good teachers to go to or remain in “C”, “D” and “F” schools. The money follows the school, not the teacher, under the merit-based Senate plan.

5. Therefore, under the Senate plan, 343 schools would not receive pay raises if we based the pay raise on today’s school ratings.

6. There is no guarantee that the merit dollars would go toward teacher salaries. That money could go toward supplies and equipment.

Statement regarding House’s conference position regarding teacher pay raise bill, House Bill 504:

The House Republican Caucus position takes the pay raise of $2,500 in the first two years that the Senate has proposed,” said Speaker Gunn. “During the third and fourth years, we will get back up to the $4,250 total raise that the House originally passed. We will do that by placing a revenue trigger in the legislation that says if we hit three percent revenue growth in the third year, all teachers will receive $1,000. In the fourth year if we hit three percent revenue growth, all teachers will receive $750. We will remove the Senate’s unconstitutional language related to merit pay, and there will be no benchmarks for teachers to obtain a raise.

Lee Weaver says, you get what you pay for.

”If you want to get the most out of your students, you gotta give a little more to your teachers.”

Senators earlier unanimously passed a plan that would give teachers an additional $1,500 this July 1 and another $1,000 a year later.