Legislative Update | January 18-22, 2021

It’s been a busy week in Jackson highlighted by SB 2001, the teacher pay raise bill, sailing through the Senate! It’s now up to the House, which will take it up later in the session. This pay raise would see all teachers and teacher assistants receive a $1000 pay raise. Teachers with 0-2 years of experience would see a $1110 pay raise, bringing the state’s minimum starting salary to $37,000. You can read more about that here and see the bill in its entirety here.

STATE TESTING 2020-21 | On Thursday, the State Board of Education waived passing score requirements for high school end-of-course assessments and the third grade literacy test this school year.

The board also voted to allow schools and districts to suspend the assignment of letter grades, which measure school and district performance, for the 2020-21 year. More here.

BILLS TO WATCH | Several bills have passed through the Senate Education Committee that we’ve got our eye on. SB 2267, a bill that would allow teachers from other states reciprocity with a valid teaching license and a background check, and SB 2149, which would see school districts held harmless for the 2020-21 academic year. That bill would allow for districts’ MAEP funding allocation to be calculated using average daily attendance (ADA) data from 2019-20 academic year in lieu of this year’s ADA data. That data is, of course, dramatically impacted by absences related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re also watching

SB 2269 and HB 1125, our trauma-informed practices bill. This bill prioritizes student mental health and a whole-child approach and equips educators and districts with the tools they need to identify ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) as they manage students impacted by trauma in the classroom and beyond.

Similar to other child and family-serving organizations, being trauma-informed in schools means being informed about and sensitive to trauma, and providing a safe, stable, and understanding environment for students and staff.

SB 2533 and HB 302, our community schools bill. This bill seeks to amend the Districts of Innovation legislation and paves the way for Mississippi public schools to become community schools.

What is a community school? A community school is at the center of the community — open all day, every day, to everyone— and brings together academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement under one roof, leading to improved learning, stronger families, and healthier communities.

Community schools are more than just wraparound services provided to individual students in need. Rather, community schools use strategic, results-focused partnerships to improve a wide range of outcomes.

Learn more about this innovative education model from this short video!

HB 618, a bill that was facilitated by one of our very own members, George Stewart! This bill will require DPS to establish training components for officers related to autism spectrum disorder.

SB 2305 and HB 1179, the William F. Winter and Jack Reed, Sr., Teacher Loan Repayment Program. The Senate version of the bill has passed through the Senate Education Committee is now in the hands of the Appropriations Committee and we are awaiting action on the House version.

SB 2314 and HB 316, compulsory kindergarten.

SB 2559, which would facilitate the expansion of broadband across the state.

Curious about our other legislative priorities? You can see our complete agenda here.