St. John school employees get bonus earlier than normal to help with storm

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 12, 2008


News Editor

RESERVE—In response to the economic difficulties imposed upon its employees by Hurricane Gustav, St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools gave its employees a one-time $750 salary supplement.

Although the process was expedited because of the extraordinary situation, according to Executive Director of Personnel and Legal Services Ann Laborde, the money was not a bonus but rather a part of annual union salary increase negotiations.

Laborde said the increases usually occur later in the year and are given on a recurring basis rather than in one lump sum but were in no way unusual.

The money for the increase was taken out of a special fund created after Hurricane Katrina, but this owed more to the fact that the school system wanted to get the money to the employees quickly rather than the specifics of the need.

Laborde was unable to say whether the amount was in line with previous increases because the amount varies from year-to-year and even position-to-position, but because of the situation the school board decided to award $750 to all employees across-the-board.

As the extra money in their wallets helped employees’ lives return to normal, students across the parish were doing the same.

All schools except Fifth Ward Elementary and West St. John High reopened their doors on Wednesday. The two exceptions had to remain closed an additional day because their power was not restored until late Tuesday evening.

Although some schools faced additional challenges, for example some students had to eat in their classrooms because of cafeteria damage, Laborde commented, “Everything’s going really smoothly.”

A couple of schools received more significant damage than the others. The roof on Lake Ponchartrain Elementary was peeled back, damaging the library and the front foyer, and at West St. John bleachers were picked up and deposited in the middle of the football field. Still despite these setbacks, the mood remained positive.

“We’re very happy that we’re back,” said Laborde.