MDE working to correct teacher pay raise error

Corrective action is being taken after an error in the recently passed ‘teacher pay raise’ legislation was uncovered. 

The Mississippi Department of Education’s original estimate for the statewide pay raise was calculated using the Mississippi Student Information System (MSIS), which factored in MAEP-only funded teaching positions. This left gifted, special education and career-tech teachers out, but the department is ensuring all of Mississippi’s teachers that they will get the $1,500 raise that they have been promised. 

“Let me be clear, all teachers and teacher assistants will receive their well-deserved pay raise,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “State-funded teachers will receive their raise with state funds. Federally funded teachers will receive their raise with their district’s federal funds.”

According to a press release from the MDE, they are working with every school district in the state to verify the total number of MAEP-funded teachers and teacher assistants to update the cost of the teacher pay raise. Once finalized, the MDE will provide this information to lawmakers and work with them to obtain the additional funding for the pay raise.

The MDE expects to have the total number of state-funded teaching positions and the funding amount finalized by mid-May. The original cost of the raise was expected to be around $60 million, but the updated cost could reportedly increase by $15 million. 

Districts will be allocated enough money through the current appropriation to cover the monthly cost of the teacher pay raise, according to the MDE. Legislative leaders have pledged to approve a deficit appropriation in January to fully fund the pay raise.

Previous teacher pay raises were allocated to districts through MAEP, which is the state’s school funding formula. At the MDE’s request, this year the Legislature appropriated the FY20 teacher pay raise as a separate line item from MAEP so that each school district could clearly determine the amount appropriated to cover the pay raise.

“Based on feedback from district superintendents, the MDE conducted an additional review of the total number of state-funded teaching positions. During that review, the MDE determined there are additional state-funded teaching positions that MSIS does not capture as MAEP-funded positions. Due to this limitation of MSIS, these teaching positions were inadvertently excluded in the count that was used as the basis of the appropriation. The MDE’s review revealed that MSIS does not currently have the capability to collect locally-maintained, teacher-level funding source data,” the MDE explained. 

The MDE requests funds annually from the Legislature to modernize MSIS, which was created in the 1990s. MDE’s FY20 appropriation includes $500,000 to begin the process to modernize the statewide student information system.