LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Teachers in the Lafayette Parish School System (LPSS) could get a raise before the end of the year. The decision is now in the hands of the school board. The Blue Ribbon committee made the recommendation Monday night, but it wasn’t the only option they weighed.
The committee took the middle road between a sizeable salary increase and an unaltered extra check at the end of the year. It’s a smaller raise than in years past because the it’s linked directly to sales tax which has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride this year.
When teachers got a raise in 2010 and 2015, both times they received a $1,000 salary increase; however, the Blue Ribbon Committee recommended half that amount for 2020.
One of the reasons is that sales tax collection was down 2.5% from July last year to June this year. While earlier months had a significant increase, LPSS’s Chief Financial Officer Bill Guidry said March, April, and May had 10% percent losses and are now essentially back to average.
“Those swings are not unusual during times like these, so I’m not trying to rain on our parade, but we just need to have an awareness that we’re off to a good start, but we still have to monitor it, Guidry advised.
In all, three scenarios were proposed:
- Scenario one with no raise keeping all the money for larger bonus checks at the end of each year.
- Scenario two which gave teachers a $750 annual raise with a $550 check but only $100 bonus checks after this year.
- Scenario three has a $500 annual raise with a $950 check but about $500 bonus checks after this year.
Some committee members quickly dismissed scenario two citing economic uncertainty but also the benefit of that check going back into the economy.
“The feedback I get from my teacher friends is they like that big check because it allows them to go out and buy something,” stated LPSS Financial Director Matt Dugas.
Philip Ryland, another teacher and committee member said he favored option one for the same reason. “We probably will not see next October no thousand-dollar check. It will probably be closer to four of five hundred dollars,” he stated.
Julia Reed, Lafayette Parish Educators Association President, in a poll of about 450 teachers 92% were in favor of some sort of raise, but she also remarked about the bonus check,
“When it gets less than $1,000 or too far from $1,000, that’s when it upsetting, so if you can keep it close to $1,000, they would also be happy to get a raise.”
Reed and fellow teacher Juanita Hall agreed on the best option being the compromise provided with scenario 3.
“It is imperative that we do this for educators, that they have something that we say, ‘They have a raise,” said Hall.
Scenario three got support from most of the committee and will be recommended to the Lafayette Parish School Board on October 14. If approved the raise would likely go into effect around November, but a $950 bonus check would arrive sooner.
Because these raises and bonuses are being funded through a 2002 sales tax specifically for teachers, any similar raise for staff would have to come from the general fund and require a separate decision from the school board.