Webster teachers and board to discuss pay raises

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Teachers and Webster Parish School Board members will soon come together to discuss creating and implementing a salary structure that will work for all parties involved.

Teachers from across the parish showed up in force at Monday’s meeting to ask the board to open dialogue on the issue, saying that since the pay freeze three years ago, they are losing money, even as insurance, retirement and expenses increase. Jim Croad, a teacher representing the Webster Parish School Board Employees for Fair Pay and a member of the Louisiana Association of Educators, says between he and his wife, also a teacher, they have lost an estimated $34,000 in expected income due to the freeze and the evaluation system put in place by Act 1.

“We have been working together to find reasonable solutions, and I want to assure you that we aren’t looking for a fight,” he said, addressing the board.

“We aren’t looking to get rich or bankrupt the system. Our hope is that you the school board and we the educators who have taken the brunt of these difficult financial times can collaborate to find answers to our problem so that the trickle of high-performing employees who are being drawn to positions in other parishes and states does not become a flood.”

Louisiana Federation of Teachers representative Jackie Lansdale, president of Red River United, says a reasonable salary structure can be done within the board budget and within the law, but she feels the board “isn’t getting it yet.”

“I think they are thinking in the form of a pay raise, but it’s more long-term than that,” Lansdale said. “They want a salary structure that they can live with and grow with. Teachers are looking to be treated like professionals and salary schedules are a part of that.”

Three to four years ago, teachers’ salaries were based on a step schedule, she explained and with the implementation of Act 1, teachers’ pay is now based on the need, the certification and years of experience and their performance.

When the 2.75 percent “cost of living” increase was frozen three years ago, pay raises in Webster Parish stopped too.

In Webster Parish, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls says the board voted to set an amount for the highly effective teachers but nothing for those who met proficient and emergent about three or four years ago.

“That segment is incomplete,” he said. “You don’t have it for the efficient or the emergent. We follow that rubric to the letter. If we didn’t follow that, the auditors would cite us in a heartbeat. The amount of money you plug into that rubric is what (Lansdale) was questioning.”

Those teachers who rate ineffective don’t get an increase. Rawls says at the end of the school year, after evaluations have been graded, a separate check is cut to each teacher who rated highly effective.

In the 2015-16 budget, Rawls says everyone will get something.

Rawls says they are already working with the teachers through this effort and he fully intends to sit down with the teachers to discuss a viable option that’s workable for all involved.

“The more ‘in the know’ they are and the more they understand the process, the easier it is for all of us to be on the same page,” he said.

“Circumstances have placed us in a situation that none of us ever wanted to be, but I assure you that you are standing before a board that wants to support its people, monetarily and in every other way,” Charles Strong, board president, said.

Personnel Report, October 2015

Verna Norton, a paraprofessional, will go to North Webster Lower Elementary School, funding change from LA 4/8G to 8G, effective Aug. 10.

Kim Smart, a paraprofessional, will go to Central Elementary School, funding change from LA 4/8G to 8G, effective Aug. 10.

JoAnn Edwards, a paraprofessional, will go to Doyline High School, funding change from LA 4/EEF to EEF, effective Aug. 10.

Lisa Thrash, a paraprofessional, will go to Central Elementary School, funding change from LA 4/EEF to EEF, effective Aug. 10.

Penny White, a paraprofessional at Webster Parish Jr. High School, resigned effective Aug. 11.

Mary Becker, a paraprofessional, transferred to Webster Jr. High School from North Webster Jr. High School following the resignation of Penny White, effective Aug. 24.

Starla Allen, a paraprofessional, transferred to North Webster Elementary School from Browning Elementary, effective Sept. 4.

Sammi Dunn, teacher, transferred to Doyline High School from Webster Jr. High School, to replace

Daniel Lee who was transferred to Webster Jr. High School, effective Sept. 8.

Daniel Lee, teacher, transferred to Webster Jr. High School from Doyline High School, replacing Sammi Dunn, who transferred to Doyline High School, effective Sept. 8.

Guinenne Dinkins, teacher, transferred from Browning Elementary to J.A. Phillips as an inclusion teacher, effective Sept. 8.

Cleodis Bell, a paraprofessional at Webster Jr. High, resigned, effective Sept. 11.

Denny Finley, teacher at Lakeside Jr./Sr. High School replaced Johnny Rowland as principal, effective Sept. 11.

Ricky Huff, a teacher at North Webster Jr. High School, replaced Mazeroski Bursey who became assistant principal at Doyline High School, effective Sept. 22.

Brian White, teacher TAT 1 year at North Webster Jr. High School, replacing Clara Devereaux who retired, effective Sept. 28.

Michelle Sanders, a paraprofessional at North Webster Jr. High School, replacing Mary Becker who transferred to Webster Jr. High School, effective Sept. 28.

Michelle Finley, dean of students/SBLC coordinator for Phillips Middle School, Jones Elementary and the Webster Parish School Board, replacing Judy Talley who transferred to the position of educational diagnostician, effective Sept. 28.

John Austin, bus driver, Lakeside Jr./Sr. High School, replacing Thomasa Tobin who resigned, effective Oct. 1.

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