JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Educators in Mississippi are weighing in on the legislature’s recently signed bill boosting teacher pay.
In March, Governor Reeves signed House Bill 852 giving most teachers a $1,000 pay raise and incentivizing newer teachers with an extra $1,100 during the year that begins July 1.
3 On Your Side got reactions from educators, school officials, and one local organization about the pay increase.
Madison County Schools multimedia teacher Devin Cooper is a first-year teacher.
“I ended up going to film school and worked in the film industry for the last 10 years off and on for different companies all over the world,” Cooper said. “I wanted to use that knowledge to inspire kids of the next generation.”
When Cooper heard that he would be getting a boost as a new teacher, he was excited.
“We’re extremely grateful for the opportunity to keep working through this, but blessed with a step towards the compensation that has been low for a long time for teachers,” Cooper added. “People have been here for 20-25 years are getting as their kids that are graduating with a master’s degree at a different street and just recognizing how much we work.”
Madison County Schools Human Resources Director Shay Williamson is a former teacher who said the pay increase is a step in the right direction.
“Whenever I became a teacher my starting salary was a bit of a shock and when starting out I had to make a lot of decisions on which insurances I would select and how that would impact my overall paycheck at the end of the month,” Williamson said. “What this pay raise means to me is huge. I believe it’s going to open a lot of avenues for individuals moving forward especially those new teachers that are just starting out.”
Even with the rise, the average salary for Mississippi teachers still falls behind other states.
According to the Southern Regional Education Board, the average teacher salary in the U.S. for 2018-19 was $62,304.
For Mississippi, the average was $45,105.
Mississippi Association of Educators President, Erica Jones says it should be a common practice to raise teacher salaries.
“When you think of the teacher shortage, it is something the needs to be done on a yearly basis. It is not something we do sporadically,” Jones said. “It needs to be done yearly, if not more. Our educators are working extremely hard we want to continue to advocate for a teacher pay raise because we want to attract and retain teachers in Mississippi.”