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School board member says solution being worked on regarding teacher pay

Elm Grove Middle School STEM Teacher Spencer Kiper addresses the Bossier Parish School Board at their May 16 meeting. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

The Bossier Parish School Board updated the public on teacher pay raises at the regular school board meeting Thursday night.

Board member Dennis Bambrug addressed the audience saying himself, Superintendent Mitch Downey, Board President Shane Cheatham, and Chief Financial Officer Frank Rougeau have been meeting with community partners and members within the business community to find a resolution and work together as one.

“Your voices have been heard and they will continue to be heard,” Bamburg said. “President Cheatham, Superintendent Downey, Frank Rougeau and I have already had conversations with some community partners and members in the business community. This meeting was scheduled in advance of the election, regardless of the outcome. This was done primarily because both sides acknowledged that the relationship between the parties needed to be addressed and resolved,” Bamburg said. 

On May 4, Bossier Parish voters voted against two property tax proposals that would have increased employee pay and provided a funding source for Technology. That vote came after there were contentious campaigns launched against the vote and social media interaction.

“We will continue to collaborate with this group in hopes that we can come to an arrangement that will create a salary schedule for our employees. It will no longer be an ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality, it would be a ‘We’ mentality,” he added. 

Bamburg advised the audience that over the summer the school board will go through their budget line by line  making adjustments and even look at a possible four-day school week.

“One item that has been discussed is a four-day work week. We must get data first from other parishes who do this and gather information from our employees in their overall interest level,” Bamburg said. “This is not something that will be put in place next school year.” 

Prior to Bamburg’s remarks, several teachers addressed the board and thanked them for their continued support of a pay raise. 

Spencer Kiper, Elm Grove Middle School STEM teacher, 2019 Louisiana Teacher of the Year and one of the Bossier Education Coalition lead organizers, said, “It’s been an eventful couple of months. I would like to thank you all for your commitment to our teachers and staff. It was a great ask that we made for the general public and while we weren’t successful on May 4th, I am confident that we can come out of this more united as a district then ever.”

Martha-Claire Lepore, Airline High School Art teacher, debate coach and freshman class sponsor, told the board that she and her colleagues can see them advocating and supporting them. But for their hard work, they deserve a raise.

“We’re so grateful to see some new faces, some new leadership. We can tell you are advocating for us, we can see it, we’ve heard it, we hear you and we know you are standing up for us and we appreciate that,” Lepore said. “We knew what we were getting into when we signed up to work in the educational field. As teachers, were not here for the pay. We have the opportunity to change lives, but at some point we deserve to be fiscally rewarded for our hard work.”

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