Over the course of the next week, teachers will soon be voting again on proposals that will affect how they get paid.
Administrators and faculty from all schools attended a meeting in which Finance Director Crevonne Odom and the Webster Association of Educators gave brief descriptions on how to change the teachers’ salary schedule while taking into account more cuts likely coming from the state.
Odom said the options to go on the ballot will be the current salary schedule, the school board’s proposal, the WAE’s proposal and a combination of the two. In the last vote taken, teachers overwhelmingly voted to do nothing.
The school board’s proposal would take existing faculty, administrators and supervisors and move them over to a new salary schedule at their existing pay. However, if a teacher moves into an administrative position, or an assistant principal moves into a principal’s position, they would do so for $4,000 less than the current schedule. A new hire would start out at $4,000 less than the current salary schedule.
Some other modifications were made as well, including removing the requirement that a teacher must be rated effective for three years in a row before moving up on the salary schedule.
Stipends and supplements will not change, Odom added.
In the WAE’s proposal, they extended the salary schedule by another 10 steps to allow teachers to continue to move up for a longer period of time, with the same $4,000 reduction.
According to Act 1 of the Louisiana Legislature, pay based on years of experience was done away with and a salary schedule was put in its place. A teacher is now paid by a step increment system rather than on years of experience.
In the board’s proposal, teachers would be capped at step 25, and if existing faculty makes over what step 25 allows, then that is what they will make until they retire. Under WAE’s proposal, the steps are increased to 35, while keeping in mind the money the board needs to save, Daniel Blell, WAE member said.
“The proposal we have is exactly the same as the parish’s proposal with 10 more steps on the back,” he said. “Three benefits: Current personnel don’t feel like they’re getting gipped. For future personnel, it’s a bargaining point, and finally, for the parish, the savings are similar. We keep the whole bottom in savings and we cut the top in about half.”
Odom said while increasing the steps would be better for faculty who are at step 25, it would create a liability for the district.
“We’re in a very tight budget,” she said. “In my opinion, if we extend to 30 or more, we’re extending the expense the district will incur. Even though it might be better for someone to not be maxed out, it creates a liability for the district.”
Odom explained WPSB has gone from a fund balance of $10 million in its general fund to about $4 million over the last five years. The formula in the Minimum Foundation Program, the state funding to pay teacher salaries, has changed as well. The 2.75 percent increase, a factor in the MFP formula, was reduced to 1.375 percent, Superintendent of Schools Dr.
Dan Rawls said, adding school systems did not get that this year, and they don’t expect to get it for the 2017-18 school year.
“This is not an easy plan,” Odom said. “It’s not one that I particularly like. Personally, I’m in the same boat as everyone else, but my job is to do what’s best for the district.”