Last Modified: Friday, July 18, 2014 11:49 AM
JENNINGS — Public school teachers and support workers in Jeff Davis Parish will see pay raises under a proposal approved Thursday by the School Board.
The board voted unanimously to use additional Minimum Foundation Program funds from the state to provide an increase in base salaries for the system’s 825 employees this fall.
“It’s always nice when they get any kind of increase because they deserve it,” Superintendent Brian Lejeune said.
This is the first increase in base salary in several years, he said.
“Last year it was in the form of a one-time supplement check,” Lejeune said. “This year we are able to provide it as part of the base salary, so it will help with their retirement. And as part of the base salary it can never be taken away.”
Under the measure, the parish’s 492 certified employees will see a base salary increase of $775 annually. Some 333 support workers will receive an annual base salary increase of $500.
The increases will cost the board $706,734, Lejeune said. Employees should notice the increase in their September or October paychecks.
In other matters, the board agreed to join other school boards statewide in challenging a new state law on the unloading and loading of school buses.
The law, which takes effect Aug. 1, prohibits buses from picking up or dropping off students in a way that requires them to cross traffic lanes.
School boards across the state contend the restriction will add time to bus routes and increase transport costs.
“This could be tough on us,” Lejeune said. “Legally, we can’t allow students to cross the roads.”
Most bus routes are now run down roads only once. Under the new law, some routes will have to be revamped, with buses running several routes to pick up and drop off students.
Adjusting routes to meet the new restrictions could cost school districts more money in fuel and put more mileage on buses, he said.
Districts are asking the state to delay implementing the law until next year to give legislators time to review it.
“Right now the authors of the bill have requested an expedited attorney general’s opinion, and hopefully we will see that by Aug. 1,” Lejeune said. “If not, we may have to make arrangements and decide what to do about it.”
District Attorney Michael Cassidy said the legislation was intended to address problems in larger areas such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge, not rural communities.
He said the attorney general is aware of the hardships and inconvenience of the implementation. “Hopefully he will put it on hold another year while it is studied,” he said.