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Bailes speaks to South Bossier group about upcoming property tax renewal

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Bossier Parish Schools Public Relations Liaison Sonja Bailes discussing the property tax millage renewals that voters will be asked to consider on April 30, 2022. Photo By (Randy Brown, Bossier Press-Tribune)

(Stacey Tinsley, Bossier Press-Tribune)

The South Bossier Lunch Group met at the Bellaire South Complex on Wednesday, February 9, where special guest speaker Sonja Bailes, Bossier Parish Schools Public Relations Liaison, discussed the upcoming property tax millage renewals that Bossier Parish voters will be asked to consider on April 30, 2022.

“There will be three propositions up for renewal that affect every student, every school and every teacher. Note that I said “renewals.” They are not new. Each of the millages is for a 10-year term and have been on the rolls for well over 20 years. And, they fund our daily core operations,” Bailes said.

“We are asking for your support of these three renewals in order to maintain our current funding so we can continue to deliver results for our students and parish,” Bailes added.

The renewal of the three millages totals 47.19 mills. That is approximately $48.5 million.

“We are ranked as one of the top performing school districts in the state,” Bailes said.

“The Senior Class of 2021 received more than $31.4 million in college scholarships and TOPS funds. Last year, our students completed more than 1,200 Advanced Placement credit classes and acquired nearly 5,800 hours of Dual Enrollment,” Bailes added.

Bossier Schools is the fastest growing public school district in North Louisiana and the U.S. Census Bureau projects that Bossier Parish will continue to grow. In turn, Bossier Schools’ current enrollment of approximately 22,700 students is anticipated to increase to nearly 25,000 students by 2025.

“Bossier Schools not only ranks highly in academics, but also for fiscal responsibility. This is not our money. This is the taxpayers’ money and we are entrusted to use it wisely. Because of sound money management (including the maintenance of a 12-percent reserve), BPSB has one of the highest bond ratings among all school boards in Louisiana. That has saved substantial tax dollars over the years,” Bailes said.

The Bossier Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors passed a resolution to support the three property tax millage renewals by a unanimous vote. The property tax millage renewals have also received the endorsement of the Bossier Parish Republican Executive Committee.

Bailes answered questions from the audience following her presentation. One attendee asked what it would look like if the propositions did not pass.

“None of the monies collected from propositions one or three go to administrators. All of it goes to educators and to support personnel. If propositions one and three were to fail, that is the equivalent of 448 teacher positions. We have 1,558 teachers. So, you are talking about almost one third of our teachers. That is what would happen if propositions one and three fail,” said Bailes.

The South Bossier Lunch Group’s goal is to bring together men and women in the South Bossier community who want to stay informed and want to make a difference in their community.

The group’s vision is that the luncheon will help South Bossier business owners, stakeholders, community leaders and community partners network with each other to discuss the growth, development and business future of South Bossier and Bossier City.

Listed below is a breakdown of the propositions:

Proposition 1:

Proposition 1 funds a portion of the existing salaries and benefits earned by BPSB’s nearly 2,900 educators and support personnel. These employees include paraprofessionals, School Resource Officers, librarians, bus drivers, secretaries and others that support student learning.

Proposition 2:

Proposition 2 funds the day-to-day operations and maintenance of BPSB’s 45 schools and facilities, which range from new construction to schools that are nearly 100-years-old. The majority of the schools in the school system were built during the baby boom era of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Thus, these schools are 50 to 60-years-old.

This millage also pays to keep the lights on. It pays for utilities, as well as the existing salaries and benefits earned by maintenance staff.

(The maintenance department has been operating on the same budget for the last 14 years, despite adding new schools and school wings).

Proposition 3:

Every penny of Proposition 3 goes toward paying teachers’ salaries and benefits.

Bossier Parish currently has 1,558 classroom teachers, 1,486 of which are certified.
98% of Bossier Parish teachers were ranked highly effective in 2020-21. And, more than a third (525) have a Masters degree or higher. The school system also has 95 teachers and employees with National Board certifications.

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