‘I am ecstatic‘: Gov. Reeves signs historic teacher pay raise bill
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Surrounded by educators, students, and supporters Thursday, Governor Tate Reeves signed one of the largest teacher pay raises in state history.
Governor Reeves made the announcement during a ceremonial bill signing at Madison Central High School.
“I am ecstatic to sign it into law,” Reeves said.
It also builds in pay increases for every 5th year. Depending on their certification level, teachers would get between $1,200-$1,350 milestone raises every five years, with a $2,500 increase at year 25.
“It is the largest teacher pay raise and the largest assistant teacher pay raise in Mississippi’s history,” Reeves said. “Our state has an awful lot to be proud of. We continue to reach new heights that many said were not possible.”
Reeves also raved about the sacrificial work of educators during the pandemic.
“During this pandemic, teacher and teacher assistants stepped up to the plate in a way that may never be able to give them enough credit for,” the governor said. “They were willing to go back into the classroom when some in other states were not and they were willing to give our students the in-person education that they needed and deserved. It is for reasons such as this that I’m so excited to sign this teacher pay raise today.”
The governor said the raises would help retain existing teachers and help the Magnolia State to be more competitive in recruiting new educators.
Teacher Academy instructor at Gulfport High School Beth Wilson says the pipeline of teacher should be boosted.
“In my experience working with my students, one of the biggest challenges is losing these great educators to higher paying careers,” noted Wilson. “Their biggest drawback from teaching is the salary.”
But the extra pay bumps every five years will also help keep those veteran teachers in the classrooms. Still, teachers are pleading that it can’t be a one and done situation.
“As Mississippi increases our pay, so do our neighboring states,” said Erica Jones, Mississippi Association of Educators President. “In order to remain competitive, we must have a competitive salary for our educators.”
And Senate Education Chairman Dennis DeBar says that won’t be the case.
“We want to continue this, this is not going to be the end, we want to make your job easier,” said Sen. DeBar. “We want to keep focusing on you to help you educate our kids, because they are the leaders of the future.”
“This bill was shaped by the listening sessions Senate Education Chairman Dennis Debar, working with other Senators, held in the fall with teachers across our state,” said Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann via statement. “Our teachers are helping us grow the next generation of Mississippi leaders. This historic $246 million pay raise is a reflection of our thanks for their critical work.”
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