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Concordia Parish teacher raises discussed

 

VIDALIA — Concordia Parish School teachers and support staff could have an extra $1,000 to $1,500 added to their salaries next school year in addition to money approved by Louisiana legislators last month if the Concordia Parish School Board approves raises during their July board meeting.

The board discussed the possibility of giving pay raises to teachers and support staff during a regularly scheduled meeting Thursday evening.

The pay raises, which would need to be approved at the board’s next meeting on July 11, would take effect during the next contract period for district personnel.

The raise, recommended by the school board president, Raymond Riley Sr., would add an additional $1,500 to full-time teachers’ salaries and $1,000 to the salaries of any support staff such as custodians or secretaries in the schools.

Riley said the suggested pay increase for next school year is partly a response to Louisiana legislators’ decision to pass a $30 billion budget that included $1,200 pay raises for teachers and $600 pay raises for support staff.

Riley said once the raises are divided up into the 12 paychecks received in a year and taxes are deducted from each, the raises given by the state would not be enough to make a difference.

“It’s about $50 to $60 extra each month,” Riley said. “Personally, I feel like that’s an insult. I think we could add $1,500 for our teachers and $1,000 for support personnel. … I feel like we owe that to our teachers.”

During Thursday’s meeting, none of the school board members disagreed that the raises were needed. However, members discussed whether the board could afford to add an extra $1 million payroll expense to the budget.

“I would like to give teachers $2,500,” said Fred Butcher, board member, “but I would hate to sit here and vote to give teachers $1,500 and three years down the road find out we’re in trouble. The first thing we would cut are non-essential employees, and those are the people who need to work the most because they are making the least amount of money right now.”

Instead of offering permanent raises, Butcher suggested taking money from the board’s general fund and sales tax collections to give bonuses to employees in a lump sum as the funds are available rather than committing only a few dollars to each paycheck monthly.

The board deferred Riley’s motion to issue pay raises until the July board meeting, which would give the finance committee time to discuss options for providing raises or other benefits.

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