Pay supplement on way for Calcasieu school employees

Published 7:47 am Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Teachers and personnel within the Calcasieu Parish School Board will receive a one-time sales tax supplement on their next pay check. The motion was unanimously approved granting those on the teacher salary pay scale an additional $5,445 and all other personnel $3,810.

Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus said part-time employees will receive a half stipend.

Andrea Mott, president of the School Bus Drivers Association, thanked the board for the supplement and two other employees expressed concerns over the payment.

Email newsletter signup

Paula Armelin, a retired teacher and current substitute, said she’s been subbing for over three years consistently and felt that long-term substitutes were being unfairly left out.

“I feel like we’ve been taken for granted, due respect to you…We are there every day when the teachers are not,” she said.

With the difficulties of COVID-19 and natural disasters, Armelin said substitutes are the glue that holds the schools together when staff is absent.

“We’ve been looked over lots and lots of times but because of us the school is in operation.”

Bruchhaus clarified the absence of substitutes from the stipend stating,

“This resolution indicates that we’re paying this salary supplement for a full year. It’s not a bonus. It’s for a full year of working.”

“Any employee that leaves in January, February or March, they’re going to have to pay it back. If somebody’s subbing and if they miss one day, they have to pay it back. It just never has been feasible or workable to include subs who are at will and on any given day might not be there.”

Angie Broussard, a bus driver who has been in the system since 1984, expressed frustration at the pay disparity between support staff and teachers. She questioned, “Is this (stipend) from the money that we all pay equally?”

“Where is it decided that I am going to put in my whole quarter but I’m only going to get half of it back and the teachers are going to get the rest of it?”

Similarly to Armelin’s concern, she highlighted the importance of support staff to a school’s operations. “Without us, without the janitors, cafeteria workers, you wouldn’t have a system. I work hard for my money. If I put it in equally, I just truly believe it should be distributed equally.”

To mitigate some of the staff’s concerns during future stipend conversations, Eric Tarver, district eight, said it may be prudent to look at the entire salary schedule and not stipends alone.

“Maybe we’re not paying competitively to begin with. In the future we need to be looking at using the money and putting it in the positions that need to be filled.”

Fred Hardy, district two, suggested providing staff and board members with written documentation, definitions and totals to be paid for each position ahead of time for future disbursements.

In other news, Bruchhaus announced that Head Start staff, subcontractors and volunteers are now required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and universal masking will be in place for all individuals indoors 2 years old and older. The mandate comes as part of federal guidelines as the program is federally funded, he said.

“We really have no option. We’ve checked with legal.”

Bruchhaus said the district anticipates some staff members may choose not to get vaccinated. “If they are certified teachers, we might be able to work them into other locations. The biggest problems will be finding replacements. Teaching 3-year-olds is a gift not everyone has.”

In a “worst-case scenario,” he said, Head Start classrooms may have to be staffed with vaccinated, uncertified teachers.

The board also elected new officers for 2022 on Tuesday. Annette Ballard, district 4, will serve as president and Russell Castille, district 12, will be vice president.