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Mississippi Senate Approves Raise

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 05 Mar 2014 05:41pm | comments

Proposals to increase the pay of Mississippi's teachers are picking up steam in the state legislature. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that a new plan has passed the senate and could possible set up a showdown with the house.

The Senate plan would add 25-hundred dollars to a teacher's base pay over the next two years and also craft a school based performance measure that could add an additional two-thousand dollars in pay.

On the floor of the Senate, education chair Gray Tollison of Oxford says the plan is a fair and affordable way to increase the pay of teachers in the state.

"Young people take a second look at getting in the teaching profession when you are starting out at $34,390. I think that is very competitive with other professions in our state. And hopefully this will not only attract the best and brightest but maintain those in our teaching profession right now. Especially in those early years," Tollison said.

The school performance measures would send additional money to 'A' and 'B' rated schools as well as schools that move up a letter grade.

That element of the plan worries some Democrats, like Senator Kelvin Butler of McComb, who fear it will leave struggling schools out of the mix.

"They don't have the great teachers. They don;t have the tax base. They don't have all the things that the affluent districts have. So they are already getting lots of money that we can't get. So in this case they will continue to get more and more money, don't you agree?" Butler asked.

Democrats say they support a pay raise but would rather see a larger increase without any strings attach.

The house can now either agree to the Senate plan or invite a conference to work on a compromise bill.

House Education chair John Moore of Brandon says he is pleased to have made it this far.

"I am excited that they are coming to the table with us and I feel very confident that the good teachers of the state of Mississippi will have a raise by the end of this session," Moore said.

If the two chambers agree on a single plan it will go to Governo Phil Bryant who says he generally supports increasing teacher's pay

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