Committee to talk teacher pay structure

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The issue of teacher pay came before the Webster Parish School Board again Monday when District 6 Board Member John Madden asked that dialogue be opened to evaluate the school board’s pay structure as compared to neighboring parishes.

In October, teachers representing the Webster Association of Educators approached the board about lifting the pay freeze enacted in 2010.

Jim Croad, an art teacher at Minden High School, said in October that teachers were happy with the salary schedule, and the teachers he represents understand the school board may not be able to return to the salary schedule it once had due to changes in the law and budget cuts over the years. What they want, he says, is a salary schedule everyone can live with.

In a prepared statement, Madden said after listening to the concerns of teachers, paraprofessionals and support staff, he feels there are some things that should be investigated to bring Webster’s pay schedule in line with adjoining districts.

“Due to the dynamics of parish populations, tax collecting abilities, socio-economic concerns, etc., there cannot and will not be a perfect pay equilibrium,” he said. “I feel it is our duty to go on a fact-finding mission, evaluate the findings, adjust our pay in accordance thereto, if possible due to money constraints, and address the employees with the facts.”

Finance Director Crevonne Odom says she put in board members’ packets a proposed timeline, a letter, and a meeting date for the finance committee to meet to begin discussion on the issue.

The meeting, set for 9 a.m., Tuesday, March 15, will include the board’s finance committee, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls, supervisors and a combination of employees, including teachers, librarians, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, custodians and more, she said. The committee will be tasked with making a new proposal for Webster Parish.

“Hopefully, we will find that all levels of employees are being represented fairly on the newly-appointed finance committee,” Croad said in a prepared statement by the Webster Association of Educators. “This is a step in the right direction. Even though our state has continually underfunded education, we are ready to work with all stakeholders in Webster Parish to create a budget that improves our school system.”

Although the pay freeze was lifted in July 2015, the current system does not allow for teachers to move up or receive a step increase in their salary unless they are rated highly effective three years in a row. This means in their evaluations, their scores must total four three years in a row.

The way the salary structure is set up now, money they say is supposed to be included in their salary is not, but as separate checks.

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