Reeves, Tollison introduce teacher salary legislation

schoolJACKSON — Current Mississippi teachers would see a $3,500 increase in pay over the next 16 months while starting salaries would rise under a plan presented yesterday by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Senate Education Committee Chairman Gray Tollison.

The proposal also includes a stipend to reward teachers for academic improvement at schools.

“The Senate’s plan for teachers makes Mississippi competitive in keeping the best and brightest teachers here and rewards those teachers who see results in the classroom,” Reeves said.

The plan 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

• Rewarding teachers at schools that show academic improvement each year under the School Recognition Program implemented in Fiscal Year 2017.

“Our state loses too many good teachers to other states, and this plan can slow that migration,” said Tollison, R-Oxford. “College graduates need to know they can make a good salary doing what they love in their home state.”

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, according to Reeves.

“Teachers know who is successful at the head of the classroom and who gets results from students,” Reeves said. “The School Recognition Program encourages teachers to pull together and help one another to improve academic performance at all grades and raise a school’s overall performance.”

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