By Tommy Reynolds
Last Week, the House of Representatives, by a 95 to 26 vote, passed House Bill 513, which would fund public education for grades K-12 for the next state fiscal year. I voted for and co-sponsored this legislation, which would provide a 3% raise for each of the state’s 30,000 school teachers, and an increase for teacher aides as well. One new feature of the bill that will hopefully encourage good teachers to remain as teachers, is a provision that will allow additional incremental raises for teachers who have beyond 26 years of service.
The bill also provides funding for training for teachers to recognize dyslexia, for classroom supplies, and funds the State Building Fund for school needs.
The bill would fund the Vocational and Technical Education Division of the State Department of Education, which covers all vocational training for Mississippi for K-12, as well as the annual appropriation to the Chickasaw Cession counties. Yalobusha County, and in particular, the Water Valley School District, falls into the Chickasaw Cession area, and receives over $200,000 per year from these funds, if the proper appropriation is made. House Bill 513 contains this appropriation language. The bill also funds the expenses for the Mississippi School for the Blind and the Mississippi School for the Deaf.
During the debate on the Bill, there was an amendment offered which would have meant that teacher aides would have gotten no pay raise, and that the pay raise for teachers with less than 25 years would have been eliminated. This amendment lost by a vote of 77-44, and I opposed the amendment.
I supported House Bill 513 as it passed. I want education to be funded adequately each year and not just in election years. I believe that K-12 education funding must be a priority for our State if it is to advance in this century. Only an educated populace can attract the type of jobs that our state will need to be competitive.
This week I was appointed Chairman of the Institutions of Higher Learning Sub-Committee of the House Appropriations Committee. Next week we will be conducting budget hearings on university funding and the needs of the University Medical Center.
If I can be of any assistance to you please call on me. My phone number in Jackson during the session is (601) 359-3365. The phone number in my Charleston office is (662) 647-3203, and my residence phone number is (662) 473-2571. I can also be contacted by writing me at my home address of 15 CR 429, Water Valley, MS 38965, or at my office address of P.O. Box 220, Charleston, MS 38921.