JACKSON, Miss.–A raise for your child’s teacher may not be too far off after a bill was filed in the Mississippi House that would start raises in 2015. Teachers have been asking for a raise for several years and Mississippi has some of the lowest paid teachers in the country.
During calendar year 2015, HB504 increases the starting salary of teachers by $1,500, according to a news release by the House and Speaker Phillip Gunn. Members of the House held a news conference Monday.
That would put Mississippi in line with the Southeastern average. The increase would happen automatically for every teacher in his or her first five years of teaching. Secondly, HB504 would establish 22 benchmarks to help identify the marks of a “good” teacher. These benchmarks identify those teachers who are dedicated to their profession and to our children. Any teacher who satisfies three of the 22 benchmarks would be eligible for a pay increase of $1,500 in calendar year 2015, just like the starting pay increase.
“These benchmarks are easily achievable and can be attained by any teacher who is engaged in the classroom,” said Gunn.
Furthermore, HB504 calls for a $1,350 raise in Year 3, and a $1,400 raise in Year 4. According to Mississippi State Economist Darrin Webb, the growth projections for Mississippi over the next three fiscal years are 4.4 percent in FY16, 4.1 percent in FY17, and 3.7 percent in FY18.
“Our plan places a trigger in these budgets that says that if growth is three percent or better, then the first one percent of growth goes toward teacher pay raises,” said Gunn. “Should this growth occur, it will result in a $1,350 raise in Year 3 and a $1,400 raise in Year 4. The effect of this is that our teachers will have received a $4,200 raise by July 1, 2018.”
Gov. Bryant was still very much in favor of merit-based pay. He did not say he was against the House bills or raise proposals, but did say he was leery of where the money would come from.
Bryant’s camp released this statement:
“I believe that Mississippi’s high-performing teachers should be rewarded for their efforts, and I am encouraged that this measure includes a few measurable benchmarks. As I have said before, a merit pay system and an across the board raise are not mutually exclusive, but the state must consider where it will get the revenues to pay for what is proposed in this bill. I have confidence in the legislative process and look forward to working with the House and Senate leadership on this issue.”
Meanwhile, teachers unions in the state have said a raise needs to happen soon. MAE, the state’s largest teachers union, has said it would not be satisfied with anything less that a $10,000 raise for the state’s teachers.