Millage renewal keeps teacher pay competitive

Published 10:29 am Wednesday, April 19, 2023

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RESERVE — On April 29, St. John the Baptist Parish voters will be asked to renew an existing property tax to support health care expenses and annual improvement of salaries for all employees of St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools.

This will not result in an increase in taxes, according to the School District administration. The renewal is for 10.56 mills, comprising an estimated $8.1 million in the District’s annual operating budget.

The mills are currently set to expire at the end of 2023, with the collection of revenues extending into the 2023-24 school year. The millage renewal would impact the operating budget for the 2024–25 school year and would remain in effect for 10 years, from 2024 to 2033.

School Board President Shawn Wallace said the millage renewal will allow St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools to remain competitive with neighboring districts in regard to employee pay.

In 2022, the School Board approved a $3,000 raise for teachers and a 3% pay raise with a minimum of $1000 in the maximum of $2,000 for all full-time employees. This brought the minimum starting salary for teachers to $50,418. Employees additionally received a $500 loyalty payment and a $500 incentive payment, while teachers and staff received a state raise that included $1500 for certified staff and $750 for support staff. At the time the raises were approved, the School Board expressed commitment to continue working on the salary schedule to attract and retain qualified educators.

“The millage renewal allows us to maintain the raises that have been given and to cover the rising cost of insurance for current employees as well as retired employees so that we can continue to be competitive with the surrounding districts,” Wallace said. “A lot of great work is being done in our district, and our employees are doing an excellent job. We want to make sure we are doing our due diligence and retaining our teachers.”

Early voting continues through April 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the St. John the Baptist Parish Government complex on the East Bank and at the Edgard Courthouse on the West Bank.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on April 29, Election Day. Anyone in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

Due to repairs in the parish, some of the voting day locations have changed:

  • 04-14, 07-02, 07-03, 07-05, and 07-07 returns to LaPlace Elementary School located at 393 Greenwood Dr in LaPlace.
  • 06-01, 06-03, and 06-04 will vote at the Arcuri Center located at 1020 Cambridge Dr in LaPlace.
  • Voters in precinct 05-04 that voted at the Norris J. Millet St John Parish Library on Hwy 51 will go to Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School located at 3328 Hwy 51 in LaPlace.
  • Precinct 01-01 at the Pleasure Bend Fire Station located at 1200 highway 643 in Vacherie will vote at a mobile precinct stationed at the same location.

The millage renewal on the April 29 ballot is separate from bond proposition voters approved in the April 2022 election, which covered the funding of several upcoming capital improvement projects across the District. These projects include but are not limited to classroom technology updates, high school STEM labs, restroom upgrades, athletic facility updates and new playground equipment.

According to Wallace, the School Board’s next step is to contract architects to work on the design of each project.

“We just signed off with the bond commission, and we are getting ready to start prioritizing those projects in the upcoming months,” Wallace said.