Community member shares research on school millage votes

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By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

On May 4, Bossier voters will decide on two propositions that would raise property taxes, while giving teachers a pay raise and creating funding for school technology.

On the ballot are two millages, a property tax increase of 22.94 mills for funding pay raises for teachers and classified employees and an increase of 3.22 mills for a dedicated fund source for technology improvements.

In mid-April, a group of business and property owners gained attention by asking the public to vote against the propositions.

However, citizens have also started making their own views known, with some even starting blog sites to share their own research findings with the public.

A former Bossier resident Liz Greenfield, is a military spouse and a mother of two children. A current resident of Shreveport, her children attended elementary school in Bossier from January 2012 through May 2014.

When Greenfield learned of the upcoming vote, she saw some confusion among people in the community, and limited information about the issues. 

“The information that was available was almost all from the school board, who proposed the items in the first place, or from a teacher’s union or group consisting of mainly teachers. I wanted unbiased information,” said Greenfield.

Estimating she spent between 25-30 hours of research regarding the upcoming propositions, Greenfield shared her findings on her own blog site in hopes that the voting public would have more clarity on the matter.

“When I did my research, I thought other people might benefit from learning what I had. I felt that I could help others to have more clarity on the matter and make an informed decision for the upcoming vote, whichever way they choose,” said Greenfield.

After conducting and concluding her research, Greenfield came to the conclusion that she personally does not agree with the level of pay raises for teachers and professional staff and sites that Bossier’s turnover rate for teachers is low compared to the national average overall in Louisiana.

“I do not agree with the extreme level of $7,200 worth of raises for teachers and professional staff, and $3,000 for support.  Bossier’s turnover rates for teachers (10-13 percent) are actually fairly low — lower than national averages (16 percent) or overall in Louisiana (more than 20 percent),” she said. 

In addition, Greenfield pointed out the salaries after the raise wouldn’t just be “competitive” with neighboring parishes, they would be much higher — over $5,000 above Caddo and $2,000 more than even DeSoto.

“Since the money comes from taxpayers, I think the school board should show that they are being respectful of the community, and not asking for more than is truly necessary,” said Greenfield.  “I don’t see the rationale behind such increases.”  

Greenfield does think that Bossier teachers should have a modest raise. However, she hopes there could be budget changes that would allow for cost of living increases.

“If the Bossier School Board can find ways to trim the budget, or if the growth in Bossier’s tax base brings in more money than expected, perhaps the revenues would allow for a cost of living increase every year or two. I think a sales tax increase for a more modest raise would be appropriate. Alternately, a smaller millage could be considered,” she explained.

Greenfield strongly believes that the community supports its schools and teachers, but says support does not mean people must vote for these propositions.  

“There has been a lot of very tense interaction online lately. I have heard from friends that they don’t want to openly state they plan to vote ‘No’ because they fear backlash from teacher friends or their children’s teachers. This tension is not good for the community. There is almost a bullying effect happening as some outspoken teachers have been extremely rude toward those expressing views against the millage,” said Greenfield.  

To read Greenfield’s research, visit bossierparishproposition1.home.blog/. References for the information are provided at her site.