Local teachers receiving more money thanks to new program

LAUDERDALE CO., Miss. (WTOK) - Some local teachers will be seeing more money in their pockets this year thanks to the newly-enacted School Recognition Program.

"The legislators and the state are recognizing our teachers and staff that performed at a very high level, and they're doing it with money, which is also wonderful," Lauderdale County Schools Superintendent Randy Hodges says.

So here's the breakdown: Schools across the state that show high performance are awarded for their work. Schools that receive an accountability rating of "A" get $100 per student, based on average daily attendance. Schools with a "B" rating will see $75 per student. And schools that are able to improve by at least one letter grade will receive $100 per student.

"When you look at Mississippi, we're last in the nation, when it comes to teacher salaries, so this is encouraging that the legislators are looking at it this way, and hopefully, we're going to do more and more in the future to help our teachers," Hodges says.

The Lauderdale County School District was awarded a total of more than $383,000 across eight of its schools. Northeast Lauderdale Elementary brought in the most as an "A" school at nearly $83,000. But even schools with lower student populations or "B" ratings will still see thousands of dollars. Committees at individual schools will decide how the money is distributed among teachers and staff. Administrators cannot receive any of the money.

"Each school is responsible for forming a committee to decide who gets what and how," Hodges says.

All public schools, including charter schools, are eligible to participate in the program. Hodges says so far, it's been a big success.

The awards are based on the 2015-16 school year. LCSD received money at eight of schools. The Meridian Public School District received money at two schools, but wasn't able to provide an exact amount.