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Webster Parish School Board considers options for teacher pay stipend

by Amber McDown

During the Webster Parish School Board meeting on March 4, Finance Director Crevonne Odom presented the Louisiana Department of Education’s differentiated teacher pay stipend options. Totaling $144,340, the disbursement offers four options mandated by LDOE. The options include: Option 1 for Teachers in Critical Shortage per BESE, Option 2 for Highly Effective Teachers based on fiscal year 2022-2023 evaluations and assessments, Option 3 for teachers working in schools with an economically disadvantaged rate of 85% or more, and Option 4 for teachers in leadership positions. Up to 303 teachers in Webster Parish may be eligible.

Superintendent Johnny Rowlard expressed concerns about potential discontent among teaching staff due to discrepancies in stipend amounts. “What’s the last thing we want to do? Breed discontent,” Rowlard stated. Some teachers may qualify for more than one category, potentially leading to varied payouts.

During the meeting, Jonathan Washington, the dean of students at Richardson Elementary, was honored with the Employee of the Month award by Kevin Thompson of Taylor and Sons. His commendation will be featured in an upcoming Minden Press-Herald article.

Shakera Willliams of the Webster Parish Extension Office introduced K’Lanie Gordon as the new 4-H agent, who expressed excitement about her new role and the program’s potential growth. “I’m very excited to be here in this position, and I’m excited to see the program grow from what it is to what we can make it,” said Gordon.

Board members Jonathan Guthrie and Debbie Thomas were recognized for completing 20 hours of Continuing Learning Units.

Several field trips were approved, including visits to NASA for North Webster Upper Elementary 5th graders, a trip to Dallas to see the musical “Hamilton” for Lakeside High School world history students, and visits to the SAU Science Open House for Minden High School physical science students and St. Francisville for Talented Art students. A professional development trip to the NIET National Conference was also approved for content coaches.

Option 2 won the vote for the school calendar, securing 64% of the vote.

In announcements, Superintendent Johnny Rowland informed attendees about the upcoming regional superintendent meeting in Minden on March 19. He also addressed challenges resulting from a loss of state funding for summer feeding programs provided by local churches, indicating the need for solutions.

A special meeting is scheduled for March 18 to vote on stipend disbursement options, with the next regular school board meeting set for April 1, 2024, at 6 PM. These meetings are open to the public as required by state law.

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