The current salary for a teacher this year in St. Landry Parish holding a Ph.D. and with 25 years experience is more than $52,000 a year with no possibility of a raise.
By contrast it was discovered through a public records request some contract bus drivers in the parish, like 25 year veteran Patricia Matt, are making tens of thousands of dollars more with a base salary of over $21,000 and $4,000 a month in fuel and maintenance subsidies, which all comes to almost $70,000 in year in pay.
"She makes four trips a day, so in my opinion she is getting paid what she deserves for running her routes," says Superintendent Edward Brown.
Brown says Matt is just one in a handful of contract drivers cashing in on the subsidies by using her own bus and starting next year they will need to drive board owned buses instead of their own, if they want to keep their "platoon" or vocational school routes.
"That would cut out on the fuel and other expenses that we've incurred and bring that salary back down to the $21,660 range," says Brown.
So, come 2014, contract drivers will not be seeing a pay increase. Something parish teachers are all too familiar with after being hit with a pay freeze under Interim Superintendent Joseph Cassimere.
"We are looking to cost cutting measures where we can one day unfreeze this," says Brown.
Brown says the issue of gratuitous bus driver salaries has been talked about since the previous administration, but how long has the St. Landry Parish School Board known about the problem?
School Board member Anthony Standberry says they never did know about the problem with contract driver salaries, until recently.
"It had never been brought to our attention. Being that it's come out, I can appreciate the transparency, because with the financial status we're in we need to know where our money is going," says Standberry.
He reiterates that bus driver salaries moving towards six figures is not a good use of taxpayer money.
"When you start looking at 60 something thousand dollar salaries, as opposed to a teacher salary who's in the trench with the kids, I just find it to be somewhat unfair," says Standberry.
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