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Natchez-Adams School District includes teacher raise in budget

NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams School District is budgeting for an estimated $471,000 increase in teacher salaries based on possible pay raises discussed in the Mississippi Legislature.

NASD director of business and finance Margaret Parson presented school board members Thursday with a budget proposal for the 2014-15 school year that included a “worst-case scenario” for the amount of potential pay raises teachers could see based on bills moving through the House and Senate.

“Obviously, we have to wait and see what happens, but we’re just trying to get an idea of how things could look,” Parson said. “But until the Legislature adjourns, we won’t know exact figures.”

The House is negotiating its differences with the Senate on their pay raise proposals for Mississippi public school teachers.

The move comes after the House last week rejected a Democratic attempt to agree to the Senate’s pay raise proposal by a 71-50 vote.

Senators unanimously passed a plan that would give teachers an additional $1,500 this July 1 and another $1,000 a year later. The plan would also reward teachers and schools that show academic growth and achievement each year. Schools that improve a grade level under the state’s accountability mode, which assigns districts and schools a letter grade based on performance and other factors, would earn an additional $100 per student. Schools that keep an “A” rating each year could earn $100 per student, and those that keep a “B” rating could receive $75 per student.

The House plan would provide $4,250 over four years. Teachers would receive $1,500 spread over the first two years. If state revenue continues to grow at least 3 percent a year, they would get a projected raise of $2,750 over the third and fourth years of the plan.

Parson said the difference between the House and Senate proposals for the NASD ranges from $471,000 in salary increases with the Senate bill to $305,000 in the House bill for an increase to 247 teachers’ salaries.

“Both of them are significantly more than the current teacher scale for us,” Parson said. “But these are only bills, and nothing has passed yet.”

Parson said the district would have to fund the increases if either of the bills do not designate money for the increases.

“We would like to think they would fund it, but if there is a teacher-pay increase and the state does not fund the increase, than it would have to come from the district,” Parson said. “We just wanted to look at salaries right now and see what that would look like.”

Superintendent Frederick Hill said he would present the board with more budget updates once the Legislature adjourns in April.

“The real decisions come when we actually know what we’re working with,” Hill said.

Mississippi lawmakers last increased teachers’ base pay during the 2007 election-year session, although teachers since have received built-in “step” increases based on their experience and academic degrees.

Mississippi had the second-lowest average teacher pay in the nation in 2013 at $41,994, above only South Dakota, according to the National Education Association.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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