1997 Regular Session
To: Education; Appropriations
By: Senator(s) Harden
Senate Bill 2439
AN ACT TO CODIFY SECTION 37-143-12, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE A SCHOOL DISTRICT TEACHER-SCHOLAR GRANT PROGRAM TO PROVIDE INCENTIVE SCHOLARSHIPS TO QUALIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT EMPLOYEES TO TAKE COLLEGE COURSEWORK LEADING TO TEACHER CERTIFICATION IF THE PERSON AGREES TO TEACH IN MISSISSIPPI TO PLACE CONDITIONS ON SUCH SCHOLARSHIPS AND PROVIDE FOR CONVERSION INTO LOANS IF THE GRANTEE DOES NOT MEET SUCH CONDITIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The following provision shall be codified as Section 37-143-12, Mississippi Code of 1972:
37-143-12. (1) The Legislature finds that there continues to exist a critical shortage of teachers in many areas and communities of Mississippi. It is hereby declared to be the intention of the Legislature to attract the highest calibre students into the teaching profession and to retain qualified school district employees by awarding incentive grants to persons declaring an intention to serve in the teaching field and who actually render service to the state while possessing a regular teaching certificate with an appropriate major or subject area of concentration.
(2) There is hereby established the "School District Employee Teacher-Scholar Grant Fund."
(3) To the extent of appropriations available, residents of the State of Mississippi who are presently employed by a public school district and have graduated from an accredited program of secondary education and who have expressed in writing a present intention to teach in (a) a critical teacher shortage area or subject area of concentration, or (b) a critical teacher shortage geographic section of the state, shall be eligible for a grant under this program to be applied to the costs of their college education.
(4) A freshman establishing initial eligibility shall be eligible for a maximum of four (4) annual grants. Upper-class students shall be eligible for grants for each remaining year of study. To maintain eligibility, a student shall be enrolled in at least six (6) credit hours per semester.
(5) The annual grant shall be Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000.00).
(6) The repayment of the grants to persons is conditioned upon the grantees actually rendering service as certified teachers in (a) a critical teacher shortage area or subject area of concentration, or (b) a critical teacher shortage geographic area section of the state, as approved by the State Board of Education in Mississippi designated by the State Board of Education. For each year of full-time teaching, as defined for these purposes by the State Board of Education, repayment of twenty-five percent (25%) of the total amounts of grants shall be forgiven.
(7) The State Board of Education shall promulgate guidelines under which local superintendents of schools shall allow persons accepted into the grant program to continue their employment responsibilities with the school district under flexible working hours, which, to the extent practicable, shall also enable the person to attend college classes.
(8) In the event that the grantee fails to perform the conditions provided herein, then the grant shall be converted to a loan and the grantee shall be responsible for repayment of the grant. Persons failing to complete an appropriate program of study shall immediately become liable to the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning for the sum of all outstanding loans, except in the case of a deferral of debt for cause by the board, after which period of deferral, study may be resumed. Persons failing to meet teaching requirements in any required semester shall immediately be in breach of contract and become liable to the board for the amount of the corresponding loan received, with interest accruing at the current Stafford Loan rate at the time the breach occurs, except in the case of a deferral of debt for cause by the board, after which period of deferral teaching duties required hereunder will be resumed. If the claim for payment of such loan is placed in the hands of an attorney of collection after default, then the obligor shall be liable for an additional amount equal to a reasonable attorney's fee.
(9) A grant or loan made pursuant to this section shall not be voidable by reason of the age of the borrower at the time of receiving a loan.
(10) Failure to pay any loan and interest that becomes due shall be cause for the revocation of a person's teaching certificate by the State Department of Education.
(11) All monies repaid to the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning hereunder shall be added to the appropriations made for the purposes of this section, and said appropriations shall not lapse.
(12) The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning with the concurrence of the State Board of Education shall jointly promulgate regulations necessary for the proper administration of this section.
(13) If insufficient funds are available for the requested grants to a qualified student during any fiscal year, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning shall make pro rata reductions in the grants made to qualifying applicants. Priority consideration shall be given to persons receiving previous grants and participating in the program.
(14) The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning shall make an annual report to the Legislature. Each said report shall contain a complete enumeration of the board's activities, grants or scholarships granted, names of persons to whom granted and the institutions attended by those receiving the same, the teaching location of applicants who have received their education and become certified teachers within this state as a result of said grants and/or scholarships. The board shall make a full report and account of receipts and expenditures for salaries and expenses incurred under the provisions of this section. The board shall, upon its records and any published report, distinguish between those recipients who have breached their contracts but with the board's permission who have paid their financial obligations in full, and those recipients who have breached their contracts and remain financially indebted to the state.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.