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Head of local teachers group wants property tax to fund raises

Last Modified: Friday, June 07, 2013 7:01 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

The head of a local teachers group wants the Calcasieu Parish School Board to consider employee raises through a property tax.

Teri Johnson, president of the Calcasieu Federation of Teachers, went before the school board Tuesday night and requested it put a 10-mill property tax on the ballot.

The 10-mill tax would generate approximately $16.35 million, which would equal a $2,000 raise for teachers and a $1,0000 raise for support personnel, she said.

“I know that’s an ugly word right now, but that is the only way that we are going to be able to give our teachers and support personnel the money that they should have,” Johnson said.

Johnson commended the board for finding a way to deal with its recent budget crisis without cutting positions.

The school board was facing a $13-million deficit, but balanced its budget through revised revenue figures and the $9.5-million sale of the old Mossville Elementary School to Sasol.

School Board member Jim Schooler requested that the tax be brought before the budget committee to be considered in the next general election.

Calcasieu Parish teachers have not had a raise since the 2008-09 school year, according to Gary Anderson, assistant superintendent.

With a starting salary of $38,745 for teachers with a bachelor’s degree, Calcasieu ranks 38th among the state’s 70 districts.

DeSoto Parish has the highest starting pay ($50,100, while) Jackson has the lowest ($27,102).

In the five-parish area, starting salaries are as follows: Jeff Davis, $40,678, 22nd; Cameron $39,583, 33rd; Vernon, $36,216, 51st; Beauregard, $35,473, 55th.

Schooler said if the parish doesn’t have “competitive salaries, we’re going to lose our schools before it’s over with.”

Louisiana legislators this week added $69 million in education dollars to the state’s budget. That money is to be split between the state’s 70 school districts. School boards are mandated to use at least half of it for teacher raises, but can use more than 50 percent for raises if they so desire.

Johnson said a property tax would be a long-term solution, which she said is particularly needed with the influx of people expected in Southwest Louisiana because of business.

“We really have a good system, I just think it would be advantageous for us to want to retain the best, but you’re going to have to pay them,” Johnson said. “That’s just the nature of the beast.”

Anderson said 222 employees have left the Calcasieu school system in the last school year for retirement or other reasons and that the number that is not out of the ordinary.

Schooler and Johnson said teacher raises will help ensure that those numbers are replaced with quality hires.

“Unless we have quality teachers we’re not going to keep our A and B schools, but I’m going to leave it up to the public,” Schooler said.

Schooler also requested a 5-mill maintenance tax for south Lake Charles schools be brought before the budget committee.

He said there is currently no maintenance tax for schools in south Lake Charles.

Posted By: PQW On: 6/12/2013

Title: NO WAY!

I am all for the teachers getting a raise but there is going to have to be a better way.There is already too many taxes already.They say it is a small amount but they say that about everyone of them but they add up. They need to go cut some of the pork from the budget first.I am sure they could get plenty of people to show them ways to save money if they were truly interested in it.

Posted By: Taxes Do Not Solve Every Problem On: 6/9/2013

Title: No To Any NEW Taxes

I'm all for supporting our educators, but not at the expense of more taxes--and not for the fact that the Sate cannot find a way to raise educator pay.
Sorry Teachers, but I will vote NO on any new taxes!

Posted By: Annie Marie Carrier On: 6/9/2013

Title: Teacher Raises

While I am a proponent of teachers receiving an increase in salaries I don't agree on doing by attempting to place an additional millage of property taxes. We were just hit, and some , with an extreme amount of property to the fact people had to go into savings or even pay installments to get them paid. The state just approved a increase for teachers salaries so it is my thoughts they will be providing some assistance for the raises. One fact they school board can take into consideration is stop rehiring retired teachers and paying them and additional salary along with their retirement. Focus on teachers coming out of college making sure they are prepared to enter a classroom by implementing a three month shadow program in which a retired teacher is paid a rate to work with the young teacher helping to ensure they are better prepared. When I witness a retired teacher going back into the classroom and being paid a rate of $300.00 dollars a day, I think about a graduate who is looking for employment,but can't get hired because these retired teachers are still in the classrooms receiving double pay.

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