By May 2, a proposal to change the teachers’ salary schedule should go before the Webster Parish School Board.
Four options will be presented to every employee that benefits from the 69 sales tax, a supplement paid to teachers and other school employees, for a vote, and whatever option carries the most votes will be the option presented to the board, Finance Director Crevonne Odom said.
“Once I present it to the board, it’s out of my hands,” she said. “If they want to add something, change something, do whatever, that’s their choice. What will be presented to the board is what the district as a whole would like to do.”
It will be the responsibility of the committee members to make sure the ballots are passed out, collected and turned in to tally the votes, she said.
During a finance committee meeting April 4, four options were presented to members, with a couple of different variations to the second one. On Monday, committee members chose a variation to present districtwide.
The options that will go before the entire district is as follows:
- Option 1: To reduce new hires’ pay by $4,000. This includes every new hire and would extend to those changing positions as well. For example, if a teacher moves into a supervisory position, such as assistant principal or principal, they would still get an increase in pay, but it would be $4,000 less per year.
Odom made it clear that if Option 1 is chosen, it only applies to new hires or those transitioning into another position.
“By law, I can’t touch your current salaries,” she said. “If we adopt a new salary schedule, it would only affect the new people coming in and if you transition into a new position. That’s where it would affect a current person.”
- Option 2: There will be no monthly supplement, but teachers, for example, will get their August “Welcome Back” supplement, their November supplement and another one in June. The difference will be in the June supplement check. This option was presented Monday night and was chosen by a vote of 22-6. The supplement applys to support staff, except paraprofessionals and central office staff, as well.
- Option 3: A combination of Option 1 and 2.
- Option 4: Leave the salary schedule as it is.
There were concerns raised about no attempt to increase revenue to afford teachers a raise, as well as concerns about no “better solutions” to changing the structure. Jim Croad, president-elect of the Webster Association of Educators, says he’s encouraged by the steps taken to remove the guidelines that deny basic step increases to effective teachers.
However, concern remains over the proposed salary structure.
“After five years of a pay freeze, there are no better solutions proposed for teachers than to take a $4,000 career cut in pay with at least another four years of a freeze or to have things stay as they are indefinitely with no promise of a district plan for eventually lifting the freeze or raising revenue,” he said. “Furthermore, the mention of potential cuts to support staff, who are already paid below an adequate living wage, is something we vehemently oppose.”
District 6 Board Member John Madden says he opposes the cut in pay, even though he is not a voting member of the finance committee, because it will put the teachers at odds with each other.
“That will keep these people’s pay frozen longer until they can reach those steps and it will keep at odds with every teacher in the parish,” he said.
Odom says even with the $4,000 reduction in pay, in total with the sales taxes, it is still roughly $3,000 more than what Bossier Parish pays its employees. She says in this way, Webster still remains competitive in hiring.