Teacher pay hike bill considered 'slap in the face'

Source: MGN
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JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK) - There's only one bill left in play this session that could lead to a pay raise for Mississippi teachers. But teachers say when you do the math, it won't even be noticeable in their bank account.

The proposal is for a total of $1,000 over two years.

"We think the one in the Senate is a real slap in the face and we are not happy with that suggestion of that pay raise. We don't consider that actually a pay raise," said Joyce Helmick, president of the Mississippi Association of Educators.

The Senate passed the teacher pay raise bill Wednesday. And if you ask the education chairman, it's a step in the right direction.

"It's $50 million and that's better than nothing. And it is a thousand dollars, raising the starting salary of a teacher with a bachelor's degree to $35,390. Again, we have the local supplement. I know the legislature will continue to work towards raising that salary so we're competitive. But we're moving in the right direction," said Sen. Gray Tollison, Senate pro tempore.

But what exactly does it mean for teachers' pocketbooks?

"One thousand dollars for the next two years, $500 each year, $9.62 a week which amounts to $1.37 a day. Is that a pay raise? No, it's not. It's a disgrace," said Sen. Derrick Simmons, Senate minority leader.

Senators attempted to boost the amount of the raise but weren't successful. But they thought there would be another shot with a House bill that ended up not surviving deadline day.

"$3,500 across the board teacher pay raise bill and then step increases for teachers with 3-24 years," said Rep. David Baria, House minority leader. "They would get a 2 percent increase in addition to that. And teachers with 25-35 years would get a five percent increase. Because we think that's a meaningful pay raise."

The Senate bill now moves to the House where members plan to try and boost the amount. Either way, educators say they want meaningful changes that will put an end to the teacher pay fight once and for all.