Holland adds teacher pay hike to ed bill

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Mississippi teachers would receive a $5,000 per year pay raise as part of Gov. Phil Bryant’s Education Works legislative package thanks to an amendment Monday by Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville.
Even though Holland’s amendment passed the House, it isn’t likely to survive the budgeting process.
Holland said the pay raise would do more to attract quality teachers than Bryant’s Education Works package, which provide funds for scholarships to lure top-performing students to the teaching profession and to teach in low-performing school districts.
Holland’s amendment passed 63-47 even though House Education Chair John Moore, R-Brandon, argued the state could not afford it. Moore estimated the pay raise, which would be the first for teachers since 2007, would cost at least $150 million on top of the $12 million cost of the original bill.
“We are falling behind other states,” Holland argued.
The proposal, with the teacher pay raise amendment, passed the House 110-4.
Other parts of the governor’s package passed Monday would require students to read at the basic grade level to advance out of the third and seventh grades and to be sufficient at math to advance past the seventh grade. Enhanced instruction would be provided for those struggling in reading, starting in kindergarten.
It also would establish a pilot merit pay plan for teachers in four districts.
“This will affect every student in the Mississippi school system,” said Rep. Brad Mayo, R-Oxford, a key supporter of the legislation.
He added, “We are trying to get the best teachers in the areas that need them the most.”
The bill would not be enacted unless funds are made available, and it must still pass the Senate. It is doubtful that the leadership would tap into reserves for Holland’s pay raise proposal.
Other parts of the governor’s education package weren’t in the bill, including allowing students to cross district lines to attend school, which appears dead for the 2013 session.
The governor’s proposal to establish a dollar for dollar tax credit for people who contribute to scholarships for students to attend private schools, is in a separate bill pending before the House.
Also on Monday, the House passed a requirement that parents who enroll their children in kindergarten must adhere to the compulsory school attendance law.
Another bill passed Monday would allow the state Board of Education to create Districts of Innovation that would ease some of the regulations on public schools.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com