District leaders discuss teacher, employee raises

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 25, 2022

LAPLACE — A $3,000 pay raise for all teachers and a 3% raise for all other employees is under consideration as the St. John the Baptist Parish School District aims to keep pay competitive with neighboring districts.

Some stipulations have been recommended by the Salary Study Committee to keep pay raises equitable. Members of the Finance Committee, including Garrette Trosclair, have received calls with concerns that lower earning employees such as cafeteria workers and bus drivers would get the short end of the stick.

To address these concerns, the 3% raise for employees, other than teachers, shall be no less than $1,000 and shall not exceed $2,000.

The total cost of the raises would be $2,151,446.

School Board member Debbie Schum said teachers are receiving a higher amount because it is an area of greater need when it comes to attracting and retaining employees.

Schum said the salary study committee will continue looking at individual salaries to ensure the process is equitable.

“We haven’t had the chance to honestly look at it deep enough. Our main goal by making this recommendation to the committee and to the board is to let our employees know that we are serious about doing something about the salary schedule,” Schum said.

Interim Superintendent Rebecca Johnson agreed that it is in the best interest of the School District to act quickly.

“I’ve been consulting with another district. It took them a year to fix the entire salary schedule instead of doing it a little bit at a time, and they ended up losing people in the meantime.”

The Finance Committee also discussed whether pay increases should differ for certified versus non-certified teachers. The recommendation presented this week was for all teachers in the district, whether certified or non-certified, to get a $3,000 raise. Chief Financial Officer Jawanza Joseph indicated that St. John Parish Public Schools have historically given the same raises to certified and non-certified teachers, with only non-degreed or support positions receiving a lesser amount.

Meanwhile, a state raise that has been approved through the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has allocated $1,500 for certified positions compared to $750 for noncertified.

“To me, the goal should be to get teachers certified,” Schum said. “How do we motivate them to get certified if they are getting the exact same pay raise?”

Finance Committee member Jennifer Frizzell suggested a $3,000 raise for certified teachers and a $2,000 raise for non-certified teachers.

“That way, it’s more than a 3% raise but still $1,000 less than what certified teachers get,” she said.

The starting salary for a non-certified teacher in St. John the Baptist Public Schools is $43,280, and the starting salary for a certified teacher is $50,418.

The Finance Committee’s pay raise recommendation was introduced to the St. John Parish School Board during the June 23 meeting. Action has not been taken at this time.