Teacher pay raise bill sparking questions with educators

Teacher pay raise bill sparking questions with educators

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - There’s only one bill left in play this session that could lead to a pay raise for Mississippi teachers, but teachers say when you do the math--it won’t even be noticeable in their bank account.

These Valentine’s Day messages may look festive.

But they were delivered with a serious message from educators on what they think of the $1,000 over two years raise.

“We think the one in the Senate is a real slap in the face, and we are not happy with that suggestion of that pay raise," said Mississippi Association of Educators President Joyce Helmick. "We don’t consider that actually a pay raise.”

The Senate passed the teacher pay raise bill yesterday. And if you ask the education chairman, its a step in the right direction.

“It’s $50 million and that’s better than nothing," said Senator Gray Tollison. "And it is $1,000, raising the starting salary of a teacher with a bachelor’s degree to $35,390. Again, we have the local supplement. I know the legislature will continue to work towards raising that salary so we’re competitive. But we’re moving in the right direction.”

But what exactly does it mean for teachers’ pocket books?

“$1,000 for the next two years," explained Senator Derrick Simmons. "$500 each year. $9.62 a week, which amounts to $1.37 a day. Is that a pay raise? No, it’s not. It’s a disgrace.”

Senators attempted to boost the amount of the raise, but weren’t successful. But they thought there would be another shot with a House bill that ended up not surviving deadline day.

“$3,500 across the board teacher pay raise bill and then step increases for teachers with 3-24 years," described Representative David Baria. "They would get a 2 percent increase in addition to that. And teachers with 25-35 years would get a five percent increase. Because we think that’s a meaningful pay raise.”

The Senate bill now moves to the House, where members plan to try and boost the amount. Either way, educators say they want meaningful changes that will put an end to the teacher pay fight once and for all.

“We are ready to sit with them and discuss what we think teachers in Mississippi deserve,” added Helmick.

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