Dept. of Education finalizes teacher pay raise figures

After working with school districts across the state, the Mississippi Department of Education has announced that 40,991 teachers and teacher assistants are eligible for the state-funded, $1,500 pay raise.

After the pay raise was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant, the MDE had to re-evaluate the number of teachers eligible to receive the raise and the final cost. The original estimate, which was used by the legislature, only factored in MAEP-only funded teaching positions.

Related: MDE working to correct teacher pay raise error

According to the MDE, the expanded list of teaching positions eligible for the pay raise goes beyond classroom teachers, counselors, teacher assistants and librarians to include specialized positions such as dyslexia therapists, intervention specialists, audiologists and psychologists, among others.

The number of teaching positions is an increase from the original estimate of 31,157. The additional cost of the teacher pay raise is $18.5 million.

Districts will be allocated enough money through the current appropriation to cover the monthly cost of the teacher pay raise. The MDE will continue to work with legislative leaders to secure a deficit appropriation in January to fully fund the pay raise.

Richard Bennett, the House Education Committee Chairman, stated that House leadership is “supportive of funding this deficit and ensuring that the school districts will not be required to absorb any cost associated with the pay raise.”

“This is the most comprehensive pay raise the Legislature has approved and is intended to provide Mississippi educators with a well-deserved raise,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.

Previous teacher pay raises were allocated to districts through MAEP, which is the state’s school funding formula. Based on input from district superintendents, this year the MDE asked the Legislature to appropriate the FY20 teacher pay raise as a separate line item from MAEP so that each school district could clearly see that adequate funds had been appropriated to cover the pay raise.

The total cost of 40,991 educators receiving a $1,500 pay raise and associated fringe benefits is $76.9 million.

As the pay raise was being finalized in the legislature, the Mississippi Association of Educators voiced their displeasure with the final amount.

“After days of delay, after refusing to share who was on the committee, and after a closed-door debate, the teacher pay raise has come in at $1,500.That raise would see teachers receive an extra $4 a day. That is not a meaningful teacher pay raise. To say we’re disappointed is an understatement.

While we continue to fight over scraps, meeting the Southeastern average keeps moving further out of our grasp. This pay raise won’t help us fight the teacher shortage crisis. It won’t help recruit a Mississippi student to the education field. It won’t prevent a veteran teacher from leaving the classroom to pursue a more lucrative career. It won’t keep us from losing Mississippi-trained educators to neighboring states where they’re paid a salary reflective of their worth, and it sure won’t help an educator afford to quit their second job.” – MAE

In April,  MAE President Joyce Helmick stated that schools across the state are suffering because teachers aren’t paid a livable wage, causing them to leave the state or leave the public school system.