JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - School teachers in Mississippi are now one step closer towards getting a potential pay raise.
On Thursday, the Senate unanimously voted in favor of House Bill 852. The bill now goes back over to the House for a final vote before it can reach the governor’s desk for his signature.
Under House Bill 852, teachers and teacher assistants would receive a $1,000 pay increase. For new teachers with up to two years of teaching experience, they would see an increase of $1,100.
As the bill is currently written, this will be a one time pay raise. Many who are advocating for House Bill 852 said they’re excited about the potential bump in pay.
“Many of our educators are working two and three jobs just to make ends meet, so any increase in salary is a step in the right direction,” said Erica Jones, president of the Mississippi Association of Educators.
Jones said this school year alone highlights the importance of educators and why she thinks they’re deserving of a pay increase. “Our educators are working really hard throughout the state, they’ve had a tough year,” said Jones. “They’ve had to not only teach in person, virtual, hybrid, many different learning models.”
Jones said Mississippi lags behind the southeastern average when it comes to teacher pay.
“Year after year we see our teachers exiting the state to go and make more money to do the profession that they love doing,” Jones explained. “Many teachers can cross state lines and make $5,000 to $10,000 more a year compared to what they currently make here in Mississippi.”
However, she’s hoping House Bill 852 will be a sign of lawmakers working to change that statistic. During last year’s session, lawmakers were unable to give teachers a raise due to the pandemic.
Jones said she’s excited to see lawmakers prioritizing the pay increase this year, and she’s hopeful the bill will become law.
“We would love to have looked at more money to be included in the bill,” said Jones. “We do understand that the state is looking at other avenues for teacher pay raises, and we do understand that in today’s society, with everything that is going on with the pandemic, that $1,000 might be all that can be afforded in this moment, but we hope to work with the leadership over at the House, as well as at the Senate to continue to increase that year after year.”
Governor Tate Reeves has said that he will sign whatever legislation lawmakers bring to his desk regarding teacher pay raises. If signed into law, the pay increase will be in effect for the 2021-2022 school year.