GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - A pay raise for state teachers is in the hands of the Mississippi House as of Thursday. A bill granting a $1,000 pay raise has passed the Senate. The increase would be paid in two lump sum payments and would be the first since 2014. Even though the amount is not very large, teachers see it as a good sign.
Teachers spend hours each day shaping young minds. A pay raise will show those efforts pay off.
“I think it’s important that the legislators recognize the hard work of the teachers in this state and that we don’t want to be on the bottom," said Susan Carricker, a teacher at Gautier High School. "You’ve got some high quality instruction going on.”
With the average Mississippi teacher salary standing at $44,000 a year, one of the lowest in the country, any raise is needed.
“I’m happy anytime that I hear that our teachers are going to be compensated for what they do," said Principal Al Sparkman. "They bring so many value adds to their job every day.”
Every day is a long one for teacher Megan Brick.
“We work really long hours and a lot of people don’t realize that it’s not just the hours that we put in at the school. It’s hours that we put in for clubs and extracurricular activities and going to support our students in other ways as well,” Brick explained.
For many of the students at Gautier High School, they are more than supportive of a pay raise for teachers because the teachers in their lives are some of the most influential people they ever meet.
“Teachers have impacted my life throughout my senior year from kindergarten," said student Emily Tran. "They have been very helpful and they push us to be the best, and help us and guide us to where we were meant to be in life.”
Even if this raise goes through, there is still more that can be done, according to Sparkman.
“I would like to see incremental pay raises that keep up with the cost of living in the future, and I think that would keep more of our teachers in the profession and would attract more," he said.
As the old saying goes though, something is better than nothing for Carricker.
“Everything that we get, it helps. It helps in the classroom and helps us personally," she said.
There are some members of the House who are pushing for a larger increase. Even so, with this being an election year, there is very little opposition to some type of teacher pay raise. Gov. Phil Bryant supports a pay increase as well.