The education budget for the upcoming fiscal year in Mississippi grew by over $100 million compared to the previous year, which prompted Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann to call it the best year for education since William Winter was in office.
While a large portion of that will fund the teacher pay raise passed by lawmakers, the Mississippi Department of Education outlined the additional benefits of the increased allocation.
As a result of the pay raise, the starting salary for Mississippi’s teachers is now $37,000 and all other teachers and teachers’ assistants will receive a $1,000 pay increase.
Funds for the state’s Early Learning Collaboratives doubled to $16 million, which will serve approximately 6,000 pre-K children. Hosemann recently emphasized the importance of this investment while recapping the session.
“The best economic engine we have in Mississippi is the mind of a child,” That’s what’s most important…”When we take that child from pre-K up through their education time, we have an economic engine in Mississippi for the next 50 years. For the next half-century, they will prosper. They will be your leaders, your mayors, your alderman, your businessmen and women. All of that comes out of education,” Hosemann said.
The MDE also noted that lawmakers funded new instructional coaches, allocating $5 million for math coaches and $1.5 million for early childhood education coaches. The new coaches will bolster Mississippi’s team of Literacy-Based Promotion Act (LBPA)-funded literacy coaches, who help teachers statewide become more effective teachers of reading. Since the passage of the LBPA in 2013, Mississippi has become the No. 1 state in the nation for gains in reading.
$20 million was placed in the teacher supply fund—up from $12 million the previous year to help teachers to buy classroom materials. $7.6 million to modernize the Mississippi Student Information System.
$7.6 million to modernize MSIS. Teacher supply funds go directly to teachers to buy classroom materials. Funding for MSIS, created in the 1990s, will update the system for the modern technological era.
The legislature also allocated $1 million to help districts pay for advanced learning assessments including Advanced Placement and the ACT WorkKeys, and $1 million for career and technical education grants to districts.
“Students and teachers statewide will benefit from these new investments that advance the State Board of Education’s goals,” Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, said. “The state has put in place proven strategies that have significantly improved student achievement, and these investments will help students and teachers build upon their successes.”