Angela Burks Hill
Office of the Attorney GeneralOctober 27, 2017
2017 WL 5558448 (Miss.A.G.)
Office of the Attorney General
State of Mississippi
*1 Opinion No. 2017-00311
*1 October 27, 2017
Re: School Recognition Program for Salary Supplements for Teachers and Staff
*1 Angela Burks Hill
*1 54 Watts Road
*1 Picayune, MS 39466
Dear Senator Hill:
*1 Attorney General Jim Hood has received your opinion request and has assigned it to me for research and reply.
*1 In your request, you state that the Mississippi Department of Education has issued a memorandum stating that awards issued under the School Recognition Program are only authorized for certified employees who are required to hold a license issued by the Department. You then ask:
*1 Does the plain language in Section 37-19-10, Mississippi Code of 1972, in subsections (1) and (4) authorize School Recognition Program salary supplements for teachers and STAFF in productive schools in the discretion of the local school board, regardless of whether the school district employee is licensed or non-licensed?
*1 Financial awards under the School Recognition Program must be used by qualifying highly productive schools for nonrecurring salary supplements for teachers and staff, which may include both licensed and non-licensed school district employees.
Applicable Law and Discussion
*1 Section 37-19-10 provides:
*1 (1) The Legislature finds that there is a need for a performance incentive program for outstanding teachers and staff in highly productive schools.
*1 (2) Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, the School Recognition Program is created to provide financial awards to public schools that:
*1 (a) Sustain high performance by earning a school accountability rating of “A” which shall be funded at One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) per pupil in average daily attendance;
*1 (b) Sustain high performance by earning a school accountability rating of “B” which shall be funded at Seventy-five Dollars ($75.00) per pupil in average daily attendance; or
*1 (c) Demonstrate exemplary performance by improving at least one (1) letter grade, which shall be funded at One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) per pupil in average daily attendance.
*1 (3) All public schools, including charter schools, earning the appropriate school rating are eligible to participate in the program.
*1 (4) School recognition awards must be used for nonrecurring salary supplements to the teachers and staff employed in the school receiving the financial award. Any nonrecurring salary supplements paid to teachers and staff shall be prospective, shall be paid over the remainder of the year, and shall not be considered part of the local supplement. For contracted individuals, there shall be an amendment to the existing contract.
*1 (5) School recognition awards shall not be used for administrators.
*1 Section 37-19-10 is clear on its face that the awards must be paid to teachers and staff of the public schools who meet specific statutory requirements. Only administrators are statutorily excluded from receiving the school recognition awards. Although the statute is specific in the amount of money to be provided to the schools and the procedure for transferring the money to the local school districts, the statute is silent on how the awards should be divided amongst the teachers and staff at the applicable schools.
*2 Licensed employees of a public school district are statutorily required to enter into a contract with their employing school district. See Sections 37-9-17 and 37-9-23. Contrast this with “non-instructional employees” who are defined in Section 37-9-1 as “all employees of school districts other than superintendents, principals and licensed employees.” Although noninstructional employees are recommended for employment by the Superintendent to the school board in the same manner as licensed employees under Section 37-9-17, only licensed employees are statutorily required to execute a contract. Notably, Section 37-19-10(4) provides, in part: “For contracted individuals, there shall be an amendment to the existing contract”, which acknowledges that some of the awards will go to some individuals who do not have a contract (in other words, who are not licensed employees).
*2 Because the statute is clear that the awards must be paid to teachers and staff and that the awards may be granted to employees without contracts, we are of the opinion that the awards may be granted to both licensed and non-licensed school district employees.
Very truly yours,
*2 If we may be of further service, please let us know.
2017 WL 5558448 (Miss.A.G.)
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