Multiple factors influence teacher salary

news_education_greenBy Chris Kieffer

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Within the next couple of weeks, state lawmakers likely will iron out the details of the first “pay raise” for Mississippi teachers since 2007.

Both the state House and Senate have passed their own plans that could give teachers as much as an additional $1,500 on July 1, plus another $1,000 the following year. Now they must reach a common plan. There is also the possibility of additional raises the two following years.

Exactly how much individual teachers will make, however, will mostly be determined by three factors: how much experience they have, which degree they hold and where they teach.

Mississippi teacher pay follows a salary schedule. Those with a bachelor’s degree and no experience start at $30,900. The entry pay rises to $32,960 for teachers with a master’s degree, $33,990 those for a specialist degree and $35,020 for a doctorate. Teachers then get an additional increment for each year of experience – between $495 and $794, depending on their degree.

That means regardless of what the state legislature does, Mississippi teachers will have more in their paychecks next year than they do this year. However, said New Albany High math teacher Robert Garrett, that increase “doesn’t even keep up with the cost of living.”

What the legislature is proposing to do is to increase each step on the scale. For example, the amount a seventh-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree would receive next year could be $35,370, instead of $33,870. That teacher would get a $1,995 raise this summer, instead of the normal $495 increment.

“It has been seven years since teachers got a pay raise, and it is due time they got one,” said Mississippi State University College of Education Dean Richard Blackbourn, who, along with his counterpart at the University of Mississippi, said pay is a factor college students consider when determining whether to go into the field. “Teachers are the most important people in the state of Mississippi when we talk about economic development, and they deserve more than they are getting.”

The Senate plan also proposes to raise the entry-level salary for teachers with a bachelor’s degree to $34,390 in July 2015, an increase of $3,490 from the current level. Those teachers then wouldn’t receive their $495 step increase until after their third year.

Raising entry-level pay is particularly important, said UM School of Education Dean David Rock.

“As a dean of a school of education, I’d like to increase starting pay because it increases the likelihood of some of the best and brightest coming into the field,” Rock said.

Most teachers likely will earn more than what the state mandates. That’s because districts use local tax dollars to pay their teachers additional supplements. Districts, especially more affluent ones, use this extra money to attract teachers, and their amounts can vary from a couple of hundred dollars to nearly $7,000.

For instance, a first-year teacher in Oxford with a bachelor’s degree will start with a salary of $35,090. A 35-year teacher in Tupelo with a doctorate degree can reach one of $71,856, compared to $64,870 without the supplement.

Not all districts are able to afford these supplements, however. Pontotoc County Superintendent Kenneth Roye said the district used to provide a $500 supplement to all teachers but had to cut it when state funds were reduced during the economic downturn.

Mississippi educators also can earn an extra $6,000 by obtaining their National Board Certification, a rigorous process that requires them to reflect on their practice, submit a written portfolio and video evidence and prove they meet certain standards. The certification must be renewed after 10 years.

The state also could add another element to how teachers are paid – either how the teacher’s students perform on state tests or the overall performance of his or her school. Pilot programs in Mississippi are considering merit pay systems that combine test scores and teacher evaluations. Meanwhile, the state Senate proposed a plan that would provide a supplement to schools that earn an “A” or “B” grade, as well as those who improve their performance by a grade level. Teachers would be able to choose how to spend that money, including providing raises.

“I don’t have a problem with merit pay, but it needs to be thoroughly researched and not a knee-jerk reaction just because other states are implementing it,” said Amory Superintendent Tony Cook. “I don’t know if it will ever be considered fair by teachers because of the subjectivity of teacher observations from district to district and because of the difference in students from district to district. I understand teachers’ concerns, and that’s why I think it needs to be thoroughly researched and made to fit Mississippi specifically.”

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com

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State Salary scale and a roundup of local supplements available on the Education Matters blog: http://educationmatters.djournal.com/2014/03/24/mississippi-teacher-pay/

Average teacher pay, by district, for the 2012-13 school year. Note: Higher amounts represent not only higher local supplements but also that those districts have more experienced teachers or more teachers with higher degrees.

Aberdeen: $39,466

Alcorn County: $42,392

Amite: $44,265

Amory: $41,139

Attala County: $40,734

Baldwyn: $40,044

Bay St. Louis/ Waveland: $44,010

Benoit: $39,932

Benton County: $38,830

Biloxi:$48,019

Booneville: $42,845

Brookhaven: $42,415

Calhoun County: $41,457

Canton: $41,871

Carroll County: $40,078

Chickasaw County: $37,283

Choctaw County: $40,914

Claiborne County: $46,966

Clarksdale: $41,480

Clay County: $40,141

Cleveland: $43,139

Clinton: $47,121

Coahoma County AHS: $43,390

Coahoma County: $39,417

Coffeeville: $37,999

Columbia: $42,849

Columbus: $41,593

Copiah County: $41,531

Corinth: $41,251

Covington County: $40,147

DeSoto County: $40,319

Durant: $38,024

East Jasper: $39,842

East Tallahatchie: $40,000

Enterprise: $39,447

Forest Municipal: $39,745

Forrest County AHS: $44,933

Forrest County: $39,257

Franklin County: $43,306

George County: $40,101

Greene County: $41,376

Greenville: $40,798

Greenwood: $41,127

Grenada: $43,188

Gulfport: $44,585

Hancock County: $43,118

Harrison County: $44,209

Hattiesburg: $41,370

Hazlehurst: $38,138

Hinds County AHS: $47,570

Hinds County: $38,870

Hollandale: $37,306

Holly Springs: $39,951

Holmes County: $39,771

Houston: $40,069

Humphreys County: $41,469

Indianola: $40,749

Itawamba County: $41,063

Jackson County: $44,251

Jackson Public: $42,582

Jefferson County: $41,835

Jefferson Davis County: $41,361

Jones County: $42,669

Kemper County: $38,213

Kosciusko: $40,741

Lafayette County: $41,355

Lamar County: $41,138

Lauderdale County: $43,253

Laurel: $41,359

Lawrence County: $42,290

Leake County: $39,234

Lee County: $39,796

Leflore County: $49,395

Leland: $39,793

Lincoln County: $40,256

Long Beach: $43,474

Louisville Municipal: $40,429

Lowndes County: $43,396

Lumberton: $40,089

Madison County: $44,054

Marion County: $40,685

Marshall County: $39,880

McComb: $40,696

Meridian: $40,843

Monroe County: $39,954

Montgomery County: $46,686

Moss Point: $43,113

Mound Bayou: $41,225

Natchez-Adams: $43,923

Neshoba County: $41,617

Nettleton: $40,992

New Albany: $42,743

Newton County: $42,764

Newton Municipal: $39,483

North Bolivar: $38,232

North Panola: $37,426

North Pike: $41,455

North Tippah: $42,570

Noxubee County: $40,253

Ocean Springs: $43,983

Okolona Seperate: $36,852

Oktibbeha County: $38,795

Oxford: $44,917

Pascagoula: $47,091

Pass Christian: $45,248

Pearl: $41,916

Pearl River County: $40,130

Perry County: $42,415

Petal: $42,833

Philadelphia: $49,994

Picayune: $41,959

Pontotoc City: $41,043

Pontotoc County: $39,682

Poplarville: $43,266

Prentiss County: $39,334

Quitman County: $38,599

Quitman: $38,817

Rankin County: $40,860

Richton: $40,366

Scott County: $40,113

Senatobia: $41,840

Shaw: $41,734

Simpson County: $41,372

Smith County: $42,523

South Delta: $38,920

South Panola: $41,965

South Pike: $42,427

South Tippah: $42,087

Starkville: $41,500

Stone County: $42,271

Sunflower County: $38,049

Tate County: $38,930

Tishomingo County: $42,928

Tunica County: $43,228

Tupelo: $42,726

Union County: $40,895

Union Public: $40,355

Vicksburg Warren: $43,146

Walthall County: $40,752

Water Valley: $40,027

Wayne County: $40,721

Webster County: $41,970

West Bolivar: $37,456

West Jasper: $39,972

West Point: $40,303

West Tallahatchie: $38,862

Western Line: $42,783

Wilkinson County: $41,549

Winona: $40,513

Yazoo City: $40,644

Yazoo County $42,084

State average: $41,814

Source: Superintendent Annual report