[Editor’s Note: This is the second in a four-part series outlining parish leaders’ goals for the new year.]
Bossier Schools will put an emphasis on finding a pay increase for teachers in 2020.
Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey said he and the Bossier Parish School Board are continuing to look for sustainable funds to try to increase employees wages.
“This is something that is difficult and complex. We have a new chief financial officer that is in the process of becoming more familiar with those different line items of our budget,” said Downey.
He noted they are still engaging legislators about collaborating on a solution.
“We’re still continuing to talk to local representatives to try to collaborate with them about addressing the needs that we have, but it’s not easy. It is something that we will remain focused on,” Downey pledged.
A proposed property tax that would have gone towards teacher pay was voted down by parish residents in May last year.
The board was able to replace the school system’s perfect attendance stipend and cut enough from the budget that they authorized a modest raise for teachers and certified employees in mid-July.
Also high on Downey’s list are the parish’s at-risk schools. He said the parish’s Title I schools will see increased efforts towards the district being able to provide more resources.
“We’ve started those pilot programs, so we are going to continue to monitor that and expand those efforts to try to impact those schools in a positive way,” Downey said.
Looking towards improvements in 2020, Downey points out there are three construction projects that will take place — an additional wing is due to be added at Haughton High School, Cope Middle School will see additional classrooms, and Benton Middle School will also have a wing added.
Benton students will also see a shift this fall as the fifth grade from Benton, Legacy and Kingston Elementary Schools will combine with the Benton Middle School 6th grade to form Benton Intermediate. This will be housed at the current Benton Middle School site. Meanwhile, seventh and eighth graders will now attend Benton Middle School at the old Benton High School campus.
Downey also noted that there could be some changes coming to Parkway High School.
“There is money that was set aside from the 2012 bond for an additional classroom wing at Parkway High School, which is our smallest high school campus,” he explained. “There may be an opportunity to try to expand that campus and provide additional classrooms. But, that remains to be seen at this time.”
Downey added, “This is an effort to try to be proactive in terms of the future and try to get as much of a footprint for future development in that area (as we can). We don’t want to become landlocked and have to deal with something 20 years from now because we didn’t think far enough into the future about the need for additional space.”