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

high-school Football

Photo Gallery: LCCP vs. St. Louis

Local News

Re-Thunk Junk Trail: ‘Some good finds if you take your time’

Local News

Pedestrian struck, killed on US 171

Local News

Vernon asks for more funding after Head Start enrollment doubles

Business News

Zoning laws amended for solar farm

Crime

10/15: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Local News

SW La. nightlife calendar: Here’s what’s happening

Local News

Downtown Saturday fest aims to celebrate spirit, resilience of SW La.

Local News

Charla Blake: Project Build A Future work rewarding, humbling

Crime

Criminal motorcycle gang activity ‘at dangerous level’

Local News

Kinder man killed in motorized scooter accident

Local News

Cold front expected in SW La. Friday night

Local News

Amanda Dougherty: I have built lifelong friendships in teaching profession

Crime

10/14: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:Time to draw election lines

Local News

Lifelong wellness journey starts by taking the first step 

Local News

Jeff Davis, Vernon police juries oppose vaccine mandates

Local News

LC Housing Authority finally gets insurance money year after Laura

Crime

State trooper charged in fatal crash

Business News

Bayou Blend has comfort down to a ‘T’

Business News

Economist discusses fate of energy prices

Business News

Mayor honored with tourism leadership award

Business News

Names in the News: People shaping the future of Lake Area business

Business News

Russell Richard: Why leadership is so important