Education; Appropriations


Kent McCarty


2024 Session


Latest Action

The House Education and Appropriations A Committees failed to vote on HB 1702 by the March 5 deadline, causing the bill to die in committee.

Explanation of the Bill

House Bill 1702 would provide a $2,000 salary supplement to licensed teachers in districts designated as geographic critical shortage areas by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE). There are currently 103 critical shortage districts with roughly 19,000 public school teachers who would qualify for the stipend. 

HB 1702 is intended to incentivize qualified educators to teach in Mississippi’s highest-need areas. Districts are designated by MDE as geographic critical shortage areas when 10-15% of teaching staff (depending on the size of the district) are long-term substitutes, teaching out of their field, teaching with an emergency license, or teaching with no certificate at all. In short, the “critical shortage area” label is generally indicative of challenges associated with attracting and retaining qualified educators in a given area. These districts also tend to report weaker academic performance.

Existing incentive structures for Mississippi teachers do not work to address critical teacher shortages in the state’s highest-need districts. The School Recognition Program offers supplements on a per-student basis to schools that improve a letter grade (e.g., “F” to a “D” or “D” to a “C”) but primarily rewards educators for teaching in schools that are rated an “A” or “B”—schools where attrition rates are the lowest. (This program has also not been funded since 2020.) Meanwhile, teachers who earn a Master Teacher certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) are eligible for a $6,000 annual salary supplement as well as an additional $4,000 if they are employed in a public school located in one of 16 counties in southwestern Mississippi and the Delta, but not every district within these counties is one with the highest need.

A survey by Mississippi First found that teachers in “D” and “F” districts—which have much higher attrition rates, and which are disproportionately classified as geographic critical shortage areas—are more likely to struggle financially. We also identified an association between financial insecurity and attrition risk (i.e., teachers who struggled to afford basic necessities were more likely to report that they were considering leaving their teaching position). These findings suggest that financial incentives to attract and retain qualified teachers may be an effective tool to break the cycle of high attrition and low achievement in Mississippi’s highest-need areas.

2/19/24On February 19, HB 1702 was referred to the House Education and Appropriations A Committees.
3/5/24The House Education and Appropriations A Committees failed to vote on HB 1702 by the March 5 deadline, causing the bill to die in committee.