Updated on 3/12/2020 at 12:30 PM: The Senate voted unanimously to pass SB2508 on March 4, 2020. The bill has now been transmitted to the House.
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amended SB2353 on March 3, 2020. The amended bill contains the same provisions, but only extends the repealer to 2021, instead of 2026, as originally written. The Senate subsequently passed the amended SB2353 on March 4, 2020. SB2353 has now been transmitted to the House.
Updated on 3/2/2020 at 4:22 PM CST: The Senate Education Committee voted last week to pass an amended SB2508, which only extends the “repealer” until July 2021. If SB2508 makes it into law, these measures would be in effect for one year. Originally SB2508 was written to extend the “repealer” until 2026.
Updated on 3/3/2020 at 12:06 PM CST: The Senate Education Committee voted last week to extend the Critical Needs Teacher Forgivable Loan Program (CNTP) to 2026. SB2353 is double-referred to the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee; it will now need to pass the Appropriations Committee in order to make it to a floor vote. Senate Appropriations meets at 1:30 PM but it is unclear whether they will take up the bill.
Updated on 2/19/2020 at 2:42 PM CST: The Senate Education Committee DID NOT take up SB 2508 or SB 2353 at today’s meeting. Both bills were on the agenda for the meeting, but they were skipped. Although the committee did not take them up today, they could still be considered at a future meeting of the Senate Education Committee. The Committee has until March 3 to pass Senate bills through the committee. SB 2353 is doubled-referred, which means it must pass more than one committee by March 3 to make it to the Senate floor. We will keep you updated if these two bills come up for a vote.
Senate Bill 2508
The Senate Education Committee will vote later today on whether or not to extend the Mississippi Critical Teacher Shortage Act of 1998, which was originally set to expire later this year. The Act establishes a series of initiatives to incentivize teachers to teach in geographical areas of the state with a critical shortage of teachers, as defined by the law.
Initiatives in the Critical Teacher Shortage Act include the University Teacher Recruitment and Retention Grant Program, which provides scholarships for teachers in critical shortage areas to earn a Master of Education degree or an Educational Specialist degree, and the Mississippi Employer-Assisted Housing Teacher Program, which provides forgivable home loans for teachers in critical shortage areas. The bill also allows for the reimbursement of travel and moving expenses for teachers interviewing and taking jobs in critical shortage areas and establishes a pilot program in the West Tallahatchie School District for rental housing units for teachers. Finally, the law establishes the Mississippi Critical Teacher Shortage Fund as a funding mechanism to implement these initiatives.
SB2508 extends the “repealer” on the Act, meaning that if SB2508 makes it into law, these measures would remain in effect until 2026. The availability of awards under the Act is subject to appropriations by the Legislature, which is a separate process from passing SB2508.
Senate Bill 2353
The Senate Education Committee will vote later today on whether or not to extend the Critical Needs Teacher Forgivable Loan Program (CNTP). Under the CNTP, full-time and part-time students enrolled in a teacher education program with a passing score on the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (CASE) exam are eligible to apply for CNTP, provided that they express in writing their intention to teach either in a geographic shortage area or a subject area in which a critical shortage of teachers exists.
Awards under CNTP are intended to cover the total cost of the applicant’s tuition, room and board, books, materials, and fees at their college or university. Full-time students are eligible for up to two annual awards. Awards up to $3,000 are also available to qualifying teachers licensed under an alternate route program with a documented need for student loan repayment. Recipients who fail to meet the requirements of CNTP, including withdrawing from school or failing to complete their teaching service, are liable for the full sum of their award plus interest and a 5% penalty on the outstanding principal.
SB2353 extends the “repealer” on the CNTP, meaning that if SB2353 makes it into law, these measures would remain in effect until 2026. The availability of awards under CNTP is subject to appropriations by the Legislature, which is a separate process from passing SB2353. CNTP has not been funded since 2016, and no new awards are currently being made.