School board approves raise for teachers, support employees

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Bossier Parish School Board. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

The Bossier Parish School Board approved a raise for teachers and certified employees at its meeting Thursday. 

Teachers will receive a total of $2,500 from state increases and budget changes, and support employees will receive $1,250.

This increase will replace the system’s perfect attendance stipend.

“This is $1,000 from the state and $500 for support personnel. This is taking the $1,200 and the $700 stipend, and no longer having to worry about it coming up every year. This is now going to be part of the salary schedule,” said School Board President Shane Cheatham.

The board began reviewing its budget and discussing how to increase teacher and support employee salaries in the wake of the failure of a property tax millage for pay increases in May.

“We spent several weeks going over our budget pulling it apart. I think we have done a really good job of explaining our budget to our community by going line-by-line,” Cheatham said. “We cut $2.2 million out of this year’s budget so we could come up with a $300 raise for teachers and a $50 raise for support personnel.”

However, he added that even though the Board was able to make cuts to the budget and give teachers and support staff a raise, the board needs to continue to work with the business community and the community itself to find a way to give teachers and support staff even more.

“I still say we’re not finished with a $300 dollar raise at a $2.2 million dollar cost. We still need to figure out how to work with our business community and our people in the community to find a way to get a real raise for our teachers and our employees,” Cheatham added. 

In early June, the board voted to end its perfect attendance stipend for teachers and support staff, citing higher than expected costs and its unpopularity.

The program cost $2.6 million for the 2018-19 school year, which far exceeded the budgeted $200,000 to $300,000. And board members noted that the stipend was unfair to teachers.

“We’re rewarding people for doing what they’re supposed to do, which is come to work, and when they have sick children or are sick themselves, you’re almost kind of forcing them to come to work,” Cheatham said in June.

Board Member Mike Mosura added, “It’s not fair to have these folks miss a day with a sick child or be sick themselves and they miss out on $200.”

The board’s finance committee held the fourth in a series of budget review meetings prior to the board’s regular meeting Thursday night.

These meetings were open to the public and streamed live in order to provide board members, business owners and the community a view of the school board’s revenue and expenses.

Multiple school board members requested these meetings in order to get an in-depth review of the school board’s budget following the defeat of two proposed tax millages in May that would have gone toward a pay raise for the teachers and a technology funding source.