JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Mississippi’s teachers thought they were going to get a pay raise last year but then COVID-19 derailed those plans. The Senate Education Committee is giving it another go this session.
“This is the same bill we passed last year as this year,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Dennis DeBar. “We passed it out of this committee unanimously, passed it on floor unanimously and because of COVID and other issues it didn’t make it through the whole session.”
The proposed amount in Senate Bill 2001 is a $1,000 raise for teachers and teacher assistants. But those in their first three years in the classroom would get a slightly bigger bump of $1,110. That’s in an attempt to get the starting pay raised.
“Teachers of 30 years or more, we are in the middle if not slightly above the middle when it comes to teacher pay for the teachers of 30 years,” said DeBar. “So, if we can get our teachers to teach that long, they will earn pay that is commensurate with other states. It’s getting them to that point. And that’s why we need a comprehensive study of teacher pay in general to see how we can keep our teachers, what pay we need to keep our teachers out to keep them in the system.”
Earlier in the day, the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus brought up the pay issue in their press conference about 2021 priorities.
“Mississippi teachers need to receive a pay that reaches the southeastern average and we need to develop a plan for that rate of pay to be maintained,” said MLBC chairwoman Senator Angela Turner Ford.
That same question of whether it’s up to the Southeastern average was brought up in the committee meeting.
“Where do we rank?” asked Sen. David Jordan. “Are we at the top of it, at the bottom of it or in between?”
“I recognize that this is still below the SREB average, Southeastern regional average, but it’s a start and it’s what I think we can afford at this point in time,” commented DeBar.
It passed the education committee unanimously. The bill was also referred to the Senate appropriations committee. It will have to also go through that committee before going to the full Senate.