WINSTON COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- Mississippi teachers have the lowest salaries in the region.
It may all change soon as lawmakers pass House Bill 852 in the 2021 Legislative Session.
It’s something educators have been waiting on for a long time, more money.
Recently, the House and Senate decided to add the funds, now the bill heads to Governor Tate Reeves desk to be officially signed into law.
Teachers across the southeast might have a larger paycheck headed their way.
In the 2021 Legislative session, House Bill 852 was approved for a teacher pay plan, upgrading educators to a $1,000 salary increase.
For incoming teachers with two years of experience, pay goes up to $1,100.
“We’ve had $1,000 a few years ago, $1,500 the year after. I don’t expect to see it all at one time with like a 10% pay increase,” said Louisville High School teacher, Billie Jean Fulton.
Fulton said $1,000 increase may not seem like the lottery to many, but it can attract and maintain teachers within Mississippi schools.
” I know it’s a problem across the state, just the lack of teacher interns. On our campus, we don’t have a single teacher intern this semester. It’s been that way semester after semester recently.”
” We’re seeing several people move out of the profession because, you know, the pay raise is not that extravagant,” said Stimulation Instructor Chawan Jernigan.
Jernigan is grateful lawmakers are working to pay educators what they’re worth.
” They’re taking some steps and getting our pay scale up to the national level.”
On average, Mississippi teachers are paid a little over $45,000 per year. Across state lines, educators likely receive $50,000 or higher.
Teachers have part-time jobs to make up the salary difference, especially during the pandemic.
” A lot of teachers have to pick up second jobs because we don’t make enough, especially if you have a full family. I have a family of five, and sometimes it’s a struggle. We have to wait until the 31st before we have funds to pay bills and then buy food,” said Jernigan.
“Many of them don’t even get a weekend or summer because they’re working second part-time jobs,” said Fulton.
There’s hope the pay plan will pass.
” I believe the Mississippi legislation is doing what they can to help us,” said Fulton.
Governor Tate Reeves has until March 29th to sign the bill into law for the 2021-2022 school year.