- Associated Press - Monday, May 16, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has vetoed a bill that would have given the state Department of Education one more year of flexibility in how it fills some jobs and grants pay raises to some employees.

Bryant wrote in his veto message Friday that since the department was given flexibility on jobs starting in July 2014, it has given 331 raises to 247 employees.

“The Mississippi Department of Education appears to have increased the overall cost of its administrative functions through handsome raises for existing employees and high salaries for new employees,” Bryant wrote in striking down House Bill 199 .

Bryant said the department hired 203 new employees and set salaries as high as $195,000, although he didn’t say which positions are paid that much.

However, the department issued a statement Monday saying 323 employees received a pay raise since July 2014, and 227 of those raises were mandated by lawmakers. The list of mandated raises included teachers at the schools for the blind and deaf, the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science and the Mississippi School of the Arts. It also included pay increases for teachers who had earned a higher level of education, for employees earning less than $30,000 a year and for school attendance officers.

The department also said some raises were given to employees who moved into higher-level jobs or who took on more responsibilities.

“To attract and retain high-quality personnel to carry out the state’s education reform efforts, MDE salary levels should match the education, experience and skill level required,” state Superintendent of Education Carey Wright said in the statement.

The vetoed bill would have given the Department of Education one more year to be exempt from state Personnel Board rules, which govern the hiring and firing of employees. The rules generally provide civil-service protection to state workers, but agency directors sometimes seek exemptions to speed up the process of restructuring jobs.

The Department of Education has been reorganizing to carry out changes such as an increased emphasis on reading skills in early grades. It has established an Office of Literacy and an Office of Early Childhood Education, the department’s statement said. It has also hired people to work in technology support jobs, in professional development for teachers and administrators and in curriculum content support.

____

Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide