Retired principal against St. John tax renewal No. 3

Published 11:45 pm Friday, May 2, 2014

First, I fully support proposals 1 and 2 that are totally dedicated to the rebuilding of our damaged school facilities. However, I must take a stand against the school board’s request to the public to reallocate the millage funds that currently provide teachers with a $2,000 increase in their salary plus any money left over at the end of the fiscal year. This increase changes the leftover piece and divides it up among all employees. Every year the amount differs — sometimes that pot is small, but sometimes it is large, depending on the fiscal health of our community taxes. While I in no way disrespect the job that all support employees perform for our school district, I must share my prospective as a former principal why the third proposal millage ONLY should receive a “NO” vote.

These past couple of years have been extremely challenging for the teaching profession as we transition into the new accountability laws, the implementation of Common Core State Standards and the new state assessment that will be administered next year.

These demands require countless hours of intense study for teachers, none of which are paid hours. Teachers do this study willingly because they want what is best for children and they want to be the best teacher they can be. While they may grumble and not necessarily always agree to these changes, most just say, “Just tell me what I need to do and I will do it.” Most teachers either arrive early or leave late, some do both, in order to do their job effectively. They take home papers to grade, enter grades in the district’s grading system, call parents to discuss needs of students and meet professionally with their staff to improve student performance and their own performance, in addition to their daily teaching duties. Many of these activities are done after school hours.

And because most feel that teaching is a calling, they don’t advocate for themselves because they sometimes feel guilty that they should be doing more to help students.

While support employees are invaluable to the daily operation of the school, they don’t share these same responsibilities with teachers. I do believe that they deserve a raise, but the board should look to another source of revenue to provide that raise. The weight of public opinion is on the shoulders of our teaching force in the form of yearly test scores and School Performance Scores.

This tax millage that has been dedicated to teachers for the past years is a small vote of support in honor of the folks who tirelessly give more of themselves for our children to be better, smarter people. If this vote passes, the funds raised will be divided among all employees instead of just teachers. I ask that the voters of St. John the Baptist Parish vote “No” for Proposition No. 3.

– Teri Noel, retired principal of Ory Magnet School