Barely three days into session, the Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bill that would fully fund the teacher pay hike passed last session.
House Bill 1 will appropriate $18,446,578 to ensure that the $1,500 pay hike for the state’s 40,991 public school teachers is fully funded through the end of the fiscal year (June 30).
The deficit appropriation bill was passed out of the appropriations committee Wednesday with a vote by the full chamber on Thursday.
The legislature appropriated $58,442,743 in last year’s session based on calculations submitted by the MDE. Those original calculations said there were 31,157 teaching positions. The actual number was 40,991 and the raise will cost taxpayers $76.9 million annually.
The Mississippi Department of Education said in July it conducted an additional review of the number of state-funded teaching positions. MDE officials found that there were additional positions eligible for the increase that weren’t in the Mississippi Student Information System as ones funded by the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, the funding formula that determines how state funds are distributed to the school districts. Only MAEP-funded positions were eligible for the pay hike.
The problem lies in the antiquated MSIS system, which has issues with its interoperability with district systems for data. The issues forced MDE to recount the number of raise-eligible teaching positions by hand.
The legislature appropriated $500,000 as part of MDE’s appropriation to start the process on upgrading it.
The expanded list of teaching positions in addition to classroom teachers, counselors, teacher assistants, and librarians includes specialized positions such as dyslexia therapists, audiologists, and psychologists.
Since 2000, Mississippi teachers have received three pay increases beyond annual step increases. In 2000, a $337 million plan was enacted over a six-year span. In 2014, a two-year, $100 million plan passed by the legislature increased teacher pay $1,500 in the first year and $1,000 in second.