Peterman: Foster’s pay plan ‘isn’t the way it should be’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 27, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – While some school superintendents have resigned themselves that additional money from the state will be used for teacher pay raises, Concordia Parish Superintendent Lester &uot;Pete&uot;&160;Peterman balks at the idea.

It is not the idea of the raise itself that Peterman opposes. &uot;Our teachers have been very patient&uot;&160;and deserve a raise after years of being passed over, Peterman said..

But he pointed out that extra money added to the Minimum Foundation Program – the state’s way of funding local schools districts – was supposed to help districts fund measures to bring their schools up to state accountability levels, among other things.

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Foster’s plan &uot;isn’t the way it should be,&uot;&160;Peterman said. &uot;Here’s what we want the state to do – to provide raises for teachers without taking it out of the MFP.

&uot;And what about support employees and administrators?&uot;, he added. Such employees are not covered by Foster’s plan – only teachers.

Concordia Parish received $13,203,948 in MFP funds this year, which is $424,077 more than the previous school year. State money is distributed to local systems through the MFP formula, which is drawn up each year by the Legislature and then approved by BESE. The systems have been getting extra money for the past few years under a plan to bring more equity to school funding.

Of the extra money, just over 50 districts of the 66 get a share.

The wealthier systems do not share in the largesse, but the Legislature can order that teachers in those systems get the same raise. The less affluent systems use the extra money to help cover inflation – increased costs in utilities, insurance and other areas of routine school system spending as well as cost-of-living raises for teachers. The bulk of teacher pay, however, is paid by the state in an allocation totaling more than $2.2 billion. Some parishes are so poor that their teachers get only the state pay. The average pay in Louisiana is just under $33,000, about $6,000 to $8,000 less than paid in neighboring Texas. A $2,000 raise for Louisiana teachers would still be about $1,000 short of the Southern average.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.