Education funding topic of town hall

The Louisiana Public School Coalition hosted a community town hall Tuesday at Sowela Technical Community College to discuss the public education decisions to be made in the upcoming legislative session.

State Senators Ronnie Johns and Dan “Blade” Morrish and House Representatives John E. Guinn and Stuart Moss were present with members of the Louisiana Association of Educators, Louisiana Federation of Teachers and School Employees, Louisiana Association of Principals, Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, Louisiana Retired Teachers Associations and Louisiana School Boards Association.

In a panel discussion, the legislators addressed the issues of funding for school systems, pay raises for teachers and school employees and the recruitment and retention of certified teachers.

There was consensus among the panel on the necessity and worthiness of a teacher pay raise. “We should do it. It’s long overdue. The money is there. We can do this,” Johns said.

However, the idea of more than $1,000 for teachers and $500 will likely not be supported, despite teachers being well-deserving, Morrish said. “One thing that I’ve learned in my 23 years in the legislature is if you can’t count, you need to get out of this business. I can count. The votes are not there for a 10 percent raise, because the money is not there.”

The Louisiana Constitution has a mandated balanced budget requirement, Johns explained.

With approximately $300 million of new funding to be included this year and surpluses still unconfirmed by the Revenue Estimating Conference, he said, it is unlikely teachers will rise above the Southern average of teacher pay this year.

“If we could have that pot of money to put into our budget next year, we’re going to be able to do some things for education in terms of funding, not just the teacher pay but MFP, higher education and (we’ll) get back to where we’re going (the Southern average).”

Yearly focus on education would solve many of Louisiana’s education crises, Guinn said.

“I think we need to do is work on a dedicated source of funding that re-occurs every year to where these problems, they’d probably begin to disappear.”

Moss said there is expected to be “high-turn over” in both the Senate and House this year and education issues will hopefully take the forefront with “new sets of eyes and ears there to support education.”

Though panel did not refer to any specific legislation regarding retirees and Industrial Tax Exemption Program application, they did express positive regard towards allowing retired teachers to re-enter the system without penalty and supported the idea of requiring ITEP seekers to pay their share of property taxes which would support school systems.

The legislative session begins April 8.

””Education funding graphic

Local News

‘Get your creative juices flowing’ with Hook Nook Crafting

Local News

Fire Chief Harlow has intense love for public service

Local News

LABI head: State needs streamlined sales tax collection

Crime

R&B superstar R. Kelly convicted in sex trafficking trial

Crime

Leesville woman accused of stabbing boyfriend

Local News

Health care workers sue La. hospitals over vaccine mandate

Local News

Volunteer of Week: All of Bergeron family involved in community service

Local News

Gallery: Firefighter challenge

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:Amendment No. 1 is winner

Crime

Residents taking insurance companies to city court

Local News

Coming back stronger: Davison talks BBBS rebound, recovery

Local News

Ruth Sullivan, pioneer in the study of autism, dies at 97

Local News

Pfizer booster shots now available to adults at increased risk

Crime

Driver arrested for drugs after passenger found dead in truck

Local News

From Moss Bluff to Diitabiki and back again

Crime

O’Brien sentenced to life for rape of child

Crime

Five accused of attempted ATM burglaries

Local News

I-10 bridge task force chair: Wednesday crash highlights need for new bridge

Local News

National Seat Check Saturday at Southwest Beverage

Crime

State Police investigating officer-involved fatal shooting of inmate

Crime

LC man arrested after shooting at neighbor’s home

State News

Coroner identifies man killed by alligator

Crime

Sulphur High student arrested after threat made

Crime

Sheriff: Escapee shot after firing at officers