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Mississippi Senate OKs teacher pay raise, plan goes to House

February 5, 2020 GMT
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Senate Education Committee chairman Dennis DeBar Jr., R-Leakesville, tells lawmakers that Senate Bill 2001 was the first step in a multi-year process of raising teacher pay in Mississippi, as he presents the bill to the body for a vote, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss. The Mississippi Senate unanimously passed the bill raising most public school teacher salaries by $1,000 and bring starting salaries to $37,000. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
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Senate Education Committee chairman Dennis DeBar Jr., R-Leakesville, tells lawmakers that Senate Bill 2001 was the first step in a multi-year process of raising teacher pay in Mississippi, as he presents the bill to the body for a vote, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss. The Mississippi Senate unanimously passed the bill raising most public school teacher salaries by $1,000 and bring starting salaries to $37,000. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A plan to give Mississippi teachers at least a $1,000 pay raise won unanimous approval Wednesday in the state Senate, and now it goes to the House.

Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann says he wants it to be part of a multiyear plan to increase some of the lowest salaries in the nation.

“All members came together today in an effort to continue to show our public educators they have our support and, most importantly, our respect,” Hosemann said after Wednesday’s bipartisan vote.

Senate Bill 2001 would give $1,000 across-the-board raises to most teachers and to all teachers’ assistants.

Teachers in the first two years of their careers would receive raises of $1,100. That’s an effort to boost the beginning salaries.

The National Education Association says the average teacher salary in the U.S. was $60,477 for the 2017-18 school year. Mississippi had the lowest average that year, at $44,926.

The average teacher salary in Mississippi for the 2018-19 school year was $45,105, according to the state Department of Education. That is the most recent figure available.

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During Mississippi’s election-year legislative session in 2019, the state approved a $1,500 teacher pay raise that took effect for the current school year. Hosemann and several other candidates said while campaigning that further increasing teacher pay would be a priority this year.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said during his State of the State speech last week that he wants to increase teachers’ pay, but he did not offer a specific plan.

“My priority is simple,” Reeves said. “Let’s pay our teachers as much as we can possibly afford.”

Teachers’ assistants in Mississippi are currently paid $14,000 a year. The bill would increase that to $15,000.

The bill that passed the Senate will go to House committees for more work. If it survives there, as expected, it would go to the full House. Both chambers must agree on a plan before it can go to the governor.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.