Senate unveils teacher pay plan - - Jackson, MS

Senate unveils teacher pay plan

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Mississippi teachers could begin doing the math for more take-home pay. The question is, how much? Monday, the Senate took its turn unveiling a plan for teacher pay.

"This plan puts more money in the teachers' pockets faster than any other proposal out there," said Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves.

The plan Reeves unveiled looks a lot different than the House version.

"This plan increases starting teacher pay to $34,390 by July 1 of 2015," he explained.

Reeves wants current teachers to see a $1,500 raise in the first year and $1,000 the second year. The first year of the plan will cost the state $64 million. He admits, that will mean sacrifice.

"Many of the other priorities of state government will not be met this year," Reeves said. "In this plan, the Senate is making teachers our priority."

The Senate wants to create a teacher investment fund to make sure the raises having a funding source. After the first two years, a different program would kick in.

"Will institute the School Recognition Program,"Reeves told reporters. "Which will be the first statewide based merit pay system in our state's history."

It would offer extra money for schools based on their ratings. A and B schools and any school that improves by a letter grade would be eligible. The dollar amount would be determined by the number of students times $100. How that money would be spent would be determined at the local level.

A noticeable difference from the House plan is the lack of any benchmarks. The Mississippi Professional Educators says it has received mixed reviews.

"Some members were very confident that they would be able to meet those benchmarks," explained MPE president Kelly Riley. "Others,particularly our veteran educators questioned why they would have to jump through hoops per se."

The House benchmarks would require teachers with five or more years of experience to fulfill at least three points on a checklist.

Governor Bryant released this statement:

"I believe we should pay good teachers well, which is why I launched a program last year to reward top teachers for their efforts. I have said from the beginning that a true merit pay system and an across the board raise for beginning base salary are not mutually exclusive. I look forward to seeing the results of the House and Senate proposals' movement through the legislative process."  

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