Bill provides state’s first merit pay program, higher starting pay

The Mississippi Senate unanimously passed today Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ plan to raise teacher pay and reward academic progress at schools. Under the plan, current Mississippi teachers would see a $3,500 increase in pay by July 2015.

The plan also raises beginning teacher salaries to keep Mississippi’s brightest teachers in the state.

“This plan establishes the first true merit pay plan in Mississippi while making teacher starting pay competitive with surrounding states,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “The overwhelming support for this plan shows it addresses the concerns many educators had about pay discussions at the Capitol. I hope it can become law quickly, so teachers can see results by the start of the budget year in July.”

The plan, which heads to the House for concurrence, includes:

• Raising starting pay to $34,390 by July 2015,
• Increasing the salary scale by $1,500 in July 2014 and $1,000 in July 2015, and
• Rewarding teachers at schools that show academic improvement each year under the School Recognition Program implemented in Fiscal Year 2017.

Mississippi’s starting pay would be $34,390 by July 2015, more than the current salary $30,900. Beginning pay increases to $33,390 in July before rising again a year later. A higher starting pay combined with local salary supplements provided by most school districts could result in some teachers earning about $40,000 in their first year of teaching.

The School Recognition Program could reward teachers with additional stipends of as much as $2,000 in an academic year. The program rewards teachers and staff in schools that see academic improvement by moving up the school rating ladder. Schools that improve a grade level under the state’s accountability model earn a school $100 per student. Schools that remain rated “A” each year can earn $100 per student, and schools that remain rated as “B” can receive $75 per student. A committee of teachers at that school can then decide whether to spend the money either on stipends for colleagues or classroom equipment that could improve student achievement. The School Recognition Program is the first true merit pay program in the state’s history.

Lt. Gov Tate Reeves Press Release