Gazebo Gazette

The Mississippi House and Senate are pushing forward with separate plans to give pay raises to teachers.

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday passed House Bill 530; authored by Mississippi Gulf Coast Representative Richard Bennett (R-Long Beach, E Pass Christian, W Gulfport), and the whole House could debate the bill in coming days.

The committee action happened a day after Senate leaders revealed their own plan to increase teachers’ pay.  The Senate plan would bring an average increase of $4,700 over two years.

The House proposes a $6,000 increase for teachers on the lowest end of the pay scale to over $43K, and smaller amounts for those with more experience.  The legislation required each school district to have mentor teachers, who would receive $1000 extra per teacher.

The two Republican-controlled chambers and Republican Gov. Tate Reeves must agree on a single plan before teachers could see more money.

Mississippi has some of the lowest teacher salaries in the United States beginning at nearly $37,000.

The average teacher salary in Mississippi during the 2019-20 academic year was $46,843, according to the Southern Regional Education Board. That lagged behind the average of $55,205 for teachers in the 16 states of the regional organization. The national average was $64,133.

The starting salary for a Mississippi teacher with a bachelor’s degree is $37,000 for the current school year, according to the state Department of Education. Teachers with advanced degrees and more experience are paid more.

Reeves has proposed giving teachers a $1,300 pay raise during the budget year that begins July 1, then $1,000 raises for each of the next two years.