Teacher Pay Could be Less in 2014

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Jackson, Miss.

Mississippi teachers are worried about the future of their paychecks. The legislature decided in 2012 that public schools won't start earlier than the third Monday in August. The later start could mean less money for employees.

“It's unlikely that teachers will have worked 1/12th of their contract in August," said Kelly Riley, executive director of Mississippi Professional Educators. "So under the state Constitution, districts would not be allowed to pay teachers for 1/12 of the of their contract.”

That could add up to more than $500 missing in some bank accounts.

It's a question that has now been raised to Attorney General Jim Hood. His opinion says school employees can't be paid for time they haven't already worked.

Riley says that's not sitting well with teachers.

“There has been a large outcry," Riley said. "I've probably received more emails about this particular issue than any other over the course of the summer and beginning of the school year.”

Rep. John Moore chairs the House Education Committee and says the question of a pay impact wasn't brought up until recently.

“It has been a problem that has been created, manufactured if you will, that was not a problem and I don't know where the genesis of the problem is,” Moore said.

Despite the questions, Moore says don't worry.

“Reassure the teachers out there that they're going to be paid just like they've always been paid,” said Moore.

That could require changes.

“We're working with the attorney general's office to make sure that we have some proper language in the law," said Moore. "Of course, if we can't do that then we will just undo whatever is necessary.”

Moore and other lawmakers say they'll get any corrections made at the beginning of the session in January. Meanwhile, school employees are left wondering if they'll need to readjust their budget next August.

“Any change in take-home pay will be a significant impact on a family,” said Riley.

If you're wondering about June and July, those paychecks are considered back pay for the work done between August and May.