Mississippi Legislature will consider teacher pay, other benefits this session, including this proposal that raises teacher pay another $4,700 on average.

Following the 2021 session, Senate Education chairman Sen. Dennis DeBar held public hearings around Mississippi to compile information in order to draft a compensation package bill that would raise teacher pay.

On Monday, Sen. DeBar appeared at the Stennis Press Forum alongside Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann. The two discussed the public hearings with teachers DeBar had held, with the Senate Education chairman saying that the teacher pay issue will be addressed this session. He said that this would be the main priority of the education committee.

“Chairman DeBar traveled all over the state in the fall for teacher listening sessions, held a committee hearing, and met with teachers in other small-group settings.  This plan was devised using the input our teachers on the ground and in our classrooms provided,” Hosemann said.

Under the proposal, a Class A teacher with a baccalaureate degree would start at $40,000.  Teachers would receive $500 step increases at most every year, including in the first three years of teaching.  Step increases are not currently provided until the third year of teaching, though many leave the profession before Year 5.

At the pivotal five-year marks in a teacher’s career up to Year 25, teachers would receive a larger increase based on their certification. Class A teachers (baccalaureate) would receive $1,325; Class AA teachers (master’s degree) would receive $1,425; Class AAA (specialist) would receive $1,525; and Class AAAA (doctoral) would receive $1,625.

“The current salary schedule results in backloading pay and this makes it difficult for us to ever be competitive with our surrounding states,” DeBar said. “This structure, the pieces of which were recommended by Mississippi classroom teachers, will result in a more equitable distribution across a teacher’s career and higher salaries in mid years when it is likely a teacher has a family to consider.”

The base salary schedule does not include any local supplements teachers receive or state supplements, like extra compensation to locate in certain critical needs areas or become a National Board Certified Teacher.  The implementation of this proposal would mean teachers would receive an average pay raise of about $5,700 over three years, including the $1,000 raise provided by the Legislature last year.

In late December, Representative Richard Bennett (R-120), Chairman of the House Education Committee, told Y’all Politics that legislation to raise teacher pay in Mississippi is at the top of the list, adding that he expects legislation to be finalized “right out of the gate.”

The Senate version, however, is the first out of the gate in the 2022 session.

Alongside raising teacher pay, there are a plethora of other bills that will affect education in Mississippi schools, students and teachers. Below are some bills that pose potential benefits for teachers and schools:

  • HB 96: Authored by Rep. Bryant Clark (D-47), authorizes credit for certain child care expenses, child care centers and child care center teachers and directors.
  • HB 129: Authored by Rep. Daryl Porter (D-98), seeks to add Walthall County to the list of counties where National Board Certified teachers employed in a public school district are eligible for an additional $4,000 annual salary supplement.
  • HB 287: Authored by Rep. Omeria Scott (D-80), would require the State Department of Education to pay a salary supplement to persons employed as a licensed teacher in a critical shortage subject area by a school district assigned an accountability rating of D or F; and for related purposes.
  • HB 289: Authored by Rep. Omeria Scott (D-80), seeks to provide an annual salary supplement to assistant teachers employed by school districts rated C, D, or F under the accountability system.
  • HB 288: Authored by Rep. Omeria Scott (D-80), would create the Mississippi Teachers’ Salaries Task Force to study and make recommendations on how the state may increase funding for teachers’ salaries in order to achieve and maintain salaries at the southeastern average. The bill would require the task force to make a report of its findings and recommendations to the legislature by December 1, 2022.
  • HB 305: Authored by Rep. Omeria Scott (D-80), would establish the Assistant Teacher Salary Waiver Grant Program for the purpose of helping eligible assistant teachers to become licensed teachers.
  • HB 489: Authored by Rep. Steve Hopkins (R-7), would require teachers and other licensed personnel employed by school districts to be paid on a semi-monthly basis.
  • HB 511: Authored by Rep. Randy Boyd (R-19), seeks to revise the Assistant Teacher Forgivable Loan Program to increase financial assistance to those pursuing teacher licensure.