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Mississippi Lawmakers Will Meet This Week To Hash Out Teacher Pay Raises

By Paul Boger | Published 14 Mar 2014 05:46pm | comments
Mississippi teachers may soon know the details surrounding a possible pay raise. MPB's Paul Boger reports lawmakers will start meeting this week to hash out the differences in proposed pay raise plans.
 
Carol Redfield-Mims is a fourth grade teacher from Wilkins Elementary School in Jackson. She says teachers are leaving Mississippi in droves for better pay in surrounding states.
 
We need to be competitive with other states." said Redfield-Mims. "Other states make at least $10 thousand mone than Mississippi. Just last year we lost an abundance of great teachers; some that I know personally. Right now, actually, it's going to be a critical shortage starting at the beginning of the next school year because of that reason."
 
Lawmakers will have to come together in a conference committee to hammer out a teacher pay raise bill.  Neither chamber has been able to agree on how it should be structured. The Senate's proposal includes a 25-Hundred dollar pay increase within the next 18 months with the possibility of merit pay raises after three years. Under the House plan, teachers would see a 42-Hundred dollar raise over the next four years provided educators met a number of professional benchmarks. 
 
House Education Committee Chair John Moore of Brandon says he's optimistic both sides will be able to work something out.
 
"I'm very confident that we're going to come forward with a good raise." said Moore. "You know, hopefully, the Senate will meet us somewhere in the middle. Anywhere between those two numbers would be a pretty nice raise for the classroom, I think."
 
Frank Yates with the Mississippi Association of Educators says the proposed pay increases still fall short of what's needed to keep teachers here.
 
"Both of them are a step from where we have been." said Yates. "Parts of those legislation we don't think need to be in either one. We don't think benchmarks nor merit pay parts should be in either one of those. the perfect situation for us [is] to get the starting salary for teachers up to $40 thousand."
 
If lawmakers are able to work out a plan, it would mark the first raise Mississippi teacher have gotten in seven years.

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