2006 Regular Session
By: Representative Lane, Watson
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE MISSISSIPPI SCHOOL TEACHER SABBATICAL PROGRAM; TO PROVIDE CRITERIA FOR PARTICIPATION IN THE PROGRAM; TO PROVIDE FOR THE PAYMENT OF TEACHERS PARTICIPATING IN THE PROGRAM; TO PROVIDE THAT TEACHERS SHALL TEACH A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME IN THE SPONSORING SCHOOL DISTRICT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) There is established the Mississippi School Teacher Sabbatical Program which shall be available to licensed teachers employed in Mississippi school districts for not less than five (5) years, for the purpose of allowing such teachers to further their education under the conditions set forth in this section. The State Board of Education, in coordination with the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, shall develop guidelines for the program. Application shall be made to the State Department of Education for the Mississippi School Teacher Sabbatical Program by qualified teachers meeting the criteria for completing their master's degree or pursuing a doctorate program and who have been recommended by the local school board. Admission into the program shall authorize the applicant to take university course work leading to a master's or doctorate degree.
(2) The salaries of the teachers approved for participation in the teacher sabbatical program shall be paid by the employing school district from nonminimum education program funds. However, the State Department of Education shall reimburse the employing school districts for the cost of the salaries and paid fringe benefits of teachers participating in the teacher sabbatical program for one (1) contract year. Reimbursement shall be made in accordance with the then current minimum education program salary schedule under Section 37-19-7, except that the maximum amount of the reimbursement from state funds shall not exceed the minimum education program salary for a teacher holding a Class A license and having five (5) years' experience. The local school district shall be responsible for that portion of a participating teacher's salary attributable to the local supplement and for any portion of the teacher's salary that exceeds the maximum amount allowed for reimbursement from state funds as provided in this subsection, and the school board may not reduce the local supplement payable to that teacher. Any reimbursements made by the State Department of Education to local school districts under this section shall be subject to available appropriations and may be made only to school districts determined by the State Board of Education as being in need of teachers.
(3) Such teachers participating in the program on a full-time basis shall continue to receive teaching experience and shall receive the salary prescribed in Section 37-19-7, including the annual experience increments. Such participants shall be fully eligible to continue participation in the Public Employees' Retirement System and the Public School Employees Health Insurance Plan during the time they are in the program on a full-time basis.
(4) As a condition for participation in the School Teacher Sabbatical Program, such teachers shall agree to employment as teachers in the sponsoring school district for not less than five (5) years following completion of their degree. Any person failing to comply with this employment commitment in any required school year, unless the commitment is deferred as provided in subsection (5) of this section, shall immediately be in breach of contract and become liable to the State Department of Education for that amount of his salary and paid fringe benefits paid by the state while the teacher was on sabbatical, less twenty percent (20%) of the amount of his salary and paid fringe benefits paid by the state for each year that the person was employed as a teacher following completion of their degree. In addition, the person shall become liable to the local school district for any portion of his salary and paid fringe benefits paid by the local school district while the teacher was on sabbatical that is attributable to the local salary supplement or is attributable to the amount that exceeds the maximum amount allowed for reimbursement from state funds as provided in subsection (2) of this section, less twenty percent (20%) of the amount of his salary and paid fringe benefits paid by the school district for each year that the person was employed as a teacher following completion of their degree. Interest on the amount due shall accrue at the current Stafford Loan rate at the time the breach occurs. If the claim for repayment of such salary and fringe benefits is placed in the hands of an attorney for collection after default, then the obligor shall be liable for an additional amount equal to a reasonable attorney's fee.
(5) If there is not a teacher position immediately available in the sponsoring school district after a person has completed their degree requirements, or if the teacher position in the sponsoring school district in which the person is employed is no longer needed before the completion of the five-year employment commitment, the local school board shall defer any part of the employment commitment that has not been met until such time as a teacher position becomes available in the sponsoring school district. If the sponsoring school district releases a person from employment, that person may be employed as a teacher in another school district in the state that is in need of teachers as determined by the State Board of Education, and that employment for the other school district shall be applied to any remaining portion of the five-year employment commitment required under this section. Nothing in this subsection shall prevent a school district from not renewing the person's contract before the end of the five-year employment commitment in accordance with the School Employment Procedures Law (Section 37-9-101 et seq.). However, if the person is not employed as a teacher by another school district after being released by the sponsoring school district, or after his contract was not renewed by the sponsoring school district, he shall be liable for repayment of the amount of his salary and fringe benefits as provided in subsection (4) of this section.
(6) All funds received by the State Department of Education from the repayment of salary and fringe benefits paid by the state from program participants shall be deposited in the Mississippi Critical Teacher Shortage Fund.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2006.