MDE $18.5 million short to pay all qualified public educators $1500 raise

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A long awaited pay raise for Mississippi Public School teachers is once again hitting some bumps even after being signed into law. 

To fully fund the bill and cover each staff member, it’s costing more than expected.

It took a lot of patience to get a one time $1,500 raise for teachers and public school educators. Many say it’s not good enough. 

“When it was finally signed which I was hoping it would not be we were all disappointed,” Geraldine Bender of the American Federation for Teachers in Mississippi said. “It passed at such a low rate.”

But now even this amount is not fully capable of reaching each qualified public school employee after districts and the department of education conducted a review.

“Originally thinking about the $1,500 they’re we’re only two groups, teachers and assistant teachers,” Bender explained. “So now that you have the added on groups sure there’s going to be than sure it’s going to be a struggle they’re going to have to go back and find some additional funds in January.”

The Mississippi Department of Education issued a statement saying “In caution to ensure federally funded teachers were not captured in the estimate for the state-funded teacher pay raise. The MDE extracted the number of positions based on the funding code in the Mississippi Student Information System.” 

But they soon learned that system overlooked additional state funding positions from the original count like librarians, consolers, psychologists, and others adding nearly 10,000 extra names who qualify for a raise. 

“It’s really something needed for the children when you think of the children’s mental health,” Bender said. “All of this is important to the education of a child more so a child being able to learn.”

Now the new outlook for 40,991 educators receiving a $1,500 pay raise totals $76.9 million. $18.5 million more than legislators originally passed, but in a statement by House Education Committee Chairman Richard Bennett says “After we received this information from MDE the legislative budget office began working with MDE to address this issue. The house leadership is supportive of funding this deficit ensuring school districts will not absorb any costs.” 

Until session meets again in January the state Department of Education says they will provide districts enough money to cover monthly costs of the new pay raise. 

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