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Superintendent promises teacher raise amid controversy

The MDE is working to ensure teachers receive their raise. After an error in their calculations regarding the cost of a statewide $1,500 teacher pay raise, superintend Dr. Carey Wright says all teachers and teacher assistants will receive their “well-deserved pay raise.” But, how did a $15 million error occur? Wright says it was an issue with an outdated MSIS system which caused the miscalculation.

RELATED: MDE working to correct teacher pay raise error

“We went back to our codes pulled what we felt were federally funded people out and then gave them the number, but what happened was, which we did not know,” said Wright. “When we pushed the information out to the teachers the superintendents said that we were missing some teachers because there are teachers that the districts pay with state dollars that are typically paid with federal dollars. We had no way of know this.” 

Wright said the only way to ensure that this does not happen again is to have an upgrade of the system. She added that they have asked the legislature for specifically for the MSIS upgrade each year and that this year is the first time the legislature has given them $500,000 to work on the upgrades, however, Wright says the $500K is seed money and will likely cost several million when all is said and done. The MDE says they’ll likely have their updated figures by mid-may and Wright added that teachers will not have to wait on receiving their pay raise.

Regarding the recent audit of the state’s education system, Wright says she is not disputing State Auditor Shad White’s numbers, however, she says the way in which the parameters for the audit are set has a great deal to do with the outcome of the audit.

RELATED: State Auditor: Administrative salaries increase while teacher salaries decrease

With inflation accounted for, in the last 10 years White found that spending on teachers salaries and benefits in Mississippi has decreased by 3%. However, During the same time, spending on administrator salaries and benefits has grown by 10%. According to Wright, the principals’ salary needs to be included in the teachers’ salaries.

“A principal is responsible for the instructional program in that school,” said Wright. They are in those classrooms every single day. They are evaluating teachers, making sure they have got the best teachers in place, so that all has to do with instruction, but with the way Shad defined instruction, he did not include a principal salary.” 

She adds that others may be coded as administrators, but work with kids on a daily basis. Which if different parameters were set for the audit, there would be a different outcome. The first report from White showed outside-the-classroom spending on administration and non-instruction activities has increased in Mississippi over the last decade, despite the fact that the number of K-12 students and classroom teachers has decreased during the same period. Something which White says could have led to an $11,000 teacher pay raise.

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