Plan approved to reward effective teachers in critical shortage areas

Published 9:41 am Sunday, November 19, 2023

The Jeff Davis Parish School Board has approved a plan meant to award teachers who teach in critical shortage areas and receive highly effective on their performance elevations

The Jeff Davis Parish School Board unanimously approved a recommendation Thursday from Finance Director Christin LeGros and Assistant Superintendent Ben Oustalet, to issue the one-time state allocated differentiated compensation stipends to all qualifying teachers employed as of Dec. 1.

The stipends are part of the $186,815 allocated by the state to assist the parish with addressing the unique market needs in the recruitment and retention of teachers the parish, according to Finance Committee Chairman Phillip Arceneaux.

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The payments will range from $350 to $1,250, depending on qualifications of each employee.

The total cost for the distribution, including benefits, will be about $186,500 at no cost to the board’s general fund, according to Oustalet.

The School Board expects to distribute the checks on Dec. 20 to about 250 teachers.

“This is to award teachers for being highly effective, as well as teaching in critical shortage areas, which were defined by the (Louisiana) Department of Education,” Oustalet said.

The critical shortage areas include 6-12 grade math and science teachers and K-12 special education teachers. Teachers must be certified in one of those areas to receive the stipend.

“My hope is that the state will continue to issue this money every year because for the first time we have specific money to reward our teachers who are highly effective,” Oustalet said. “That has never come out before based on your job performance, so I really think it’s a token of appreciation and it is nice thing to reward people for doing exceptional work out in the field.”

About 250 teachers are slated to receive one part of the compensation package Oustalet said. Some teachers could qualify in multiple areas.

“For example, if you are highly effective in a tested subject, you would get $750,” Oustalet said. “If you teach in a critical (shortage) area you could get $1,000, so you could get $1,750.”

A teacher must qualify for each of the compensation indicators which are based on teacher elevations which are conducted twice a year. The score consists of two observations, as well as, student learning targets and test scores if a teacher teaches in a tested subject.