Teacher pay raise bill signed into law - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Teacher pay raise bill signed into law

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Public school teachers filled the State Capitol rotunda in January. They had one goal: convince lawmakers to give them a raise. Their call for change was answered.Patience was starting to wear off for public school teachers who waited seven years for THIS announcement.

"We begin today by signing a bill that will add to the income of our very best teachers," said Governor Phil Bryant.

2007 was the last time Mississippi teachers saw a bump in their take-home pay. The bill Governor Bryant signed into law Tuesday gives both new and current teachers a bigger paycheck.

"Teachers' salaries now they'll be near $35,000 beginning salary," explained Bryant. "If they go to national board certified teacher program they could get another $6,000."

Educators won't get the new money all at once. They'll get an extra $1,500 starting this July. And another $1,000 next year. Year three, merit payments will kick in for teachers in A and B rated schools. Schools that improve by a letter grade will also be eligible.

Frank Yates with the Mississippi Association of Educators says it's only a starting point.

"We can't do it once every seven years like we've done because our bordering states almost every year, teachers have gotten a pay raise," Yates said.

Speaker Philip Gunn started pushing for the raises before the legislative session started.

"The real winners here today are the children," Gunn explained. "We hope that under this plan we will be able to put a good teacher in every classroom in the state."

The new pay plan will put Mississippi's starting teacher pay higher than Tennessee and Georgia. It will be just below Florida. The state did the math and it's willing to put teachers at the top of the budgeting priority list.

"They are the true heroes in our state," said Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves.

The new pay plan will cost the state $64.4 million dollars next year and another $40 million the year after that.

The state is giving a tip of the hat to the folks who educate our children. Some say it's past due.

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