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Bossier school board approves tax proposal for teacher pay raise

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Bossier Parish Schools Superintendent Scott Smith has made competitive pay for teachers a big goal of his, and now the school board has made it a possibility.

The Bossier Parish School Board recently approved placing a property tax proposal on the May 4 ballot to be approved by voters. 

“We know that we are competitive with our benefits, we know that we are competitive with our work place environment. But we are not competitive with our pay. A first year teacher in DeSoto makes $5,500 more than Bossier parish teachers. They are our greatest competitor,” Smith said.

If approved, teachers will receive an annual $7,200 across-the-board raise. Classified employees like bus drivers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers and custodians would receive $3,000 raises. 

Superintendent Smith will not receive a pay raise.

“If passed we will have the highest paid first-year teacher pay in the region. It will help us with retaining and attracting the very best quality teachers for our district., which will make a huge difference with our kids,” Smith said.

Bossier ranks 45th in the state in teacher pay with an average salary of $47,330, according to the state education department.

Smith has been very vocal about his desire to see teacher pay increased and the importance of it.

He told the Press-Tribune ahead of the 2018-19 school year that his administration was focused on attracting and retaining quality teachers with competitive salaries. 

“We know pay is what attracts teachers and working conditions are what keeps them,” Smith said at the time. 

While incentives such as perfect attendance, a “welcome back” stipend, and bonuses have been utilized, he knows these incentives are papering over the fact that Bossier teachers are paid less than surrounding areas.

“We’re going to start losing our best to the areas around us if we don’t get competitive with our salaries,” Smith said in August.