MPE issued a Legislative Call to Action via Facebook and Twitter this past Tuesday urging our members to contact their legislators to ask them to VOTE NO on voucher expansion bills HB 1072 and SB 2675. These bills significantly open vouchers to more students while reducing funding for our state’s public schools. The bills do not hold private schools to the same accountability measures as public schools for the use of public funds. Thanks to all of our members who reached out to their legislators regarding these voucher bills. At this point, we don’t expect HB 1072 to be brought up in the House Education Committee, but we are not as confident that Senator Gray Tollison will not bring SB 2675 up in the Senate Education Committee, as he is the author of the bill.
Senate Education met Wednesday afternoon and House Education met this morning. Senate Education passed 8 bills out of committee, while House Education passed 17 bills. Among the bills passed:
HB 1349, the “Mississippi Great Teachers Act of 2019,” includes several initiatives designed to address the state’s teacher shortage, including a $1,000 pay raise for teachers implemented over two years…approximately $41.66/month BEFORE taxes. One representative referred to the proposed pay raise as “embarrassing” during committee discussion. When asked by the media for her thoughts on the pay raise, MPE Executive Director Kelly Riley said it was a slap in the face to Mississippi’s teachers, and it would not place Mississippi in a competitive position with other states for teachers. Please email Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts on this proposed pay raise so she may share your feedback with legislators. HB 1349 also provides a pay raise for teacher assistants. The bill also allows retired teachers to return to work at half their salary at the time of retirement. For example, if a teacher retired with 26 years, he/she could return to work at the salary step for 13 years of experience.
HB 572 allows an educator to take personal leave on the day before the first day of school, the last day of school, the day before a holiday or the day after a holiday in the event of death or the funeral of an immediate family member.
HB 1246 and SB 2481 both create the Mississippi Teacher Leadership Program which provides stipends to those teacher leaders who mentor and support beginning teachers. SB 2481 is double referred to Senate Appropriations.
SB 2449 defines the responsibility of the home school district and the sponsoring school district to provide educational services for students sent to juvenile detention facilities. SB 2449 is double referred to Senate Appropriations.
Tuesday, February 5, is the deadline for committees to report general bills originating in their own chamber. Any general bills not passed by House or Senate Education by Tuesday’s deadline will die on the calendar. Senate Education is scheduled to meet at 4:00 Tuesday afternoon. House Education will most likely meet before Tuesday’s deadline, as well. We will issue our first bill tracking spreadsheet next Friday.