Gov. Edwards discusses teacher pay raises, future of education with local teachers

Gov. Edwards discusses teacher pay raises, future of education with local teachers

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The first pay raises for Louisiana teachers highlighted in the recently completed legislative session; but was the hike big enough to stem the flow of teachers seeking better pay elsewhere?

$39 million for school districts and a $1,000 raise for teachers along with a $500 raise for support staff.

“We’re here meeting with teachers so they can ask questions about how it’s going to work and what they can expect going forward. This is the first step in a multi-year effort to get back to the southern regional average in teacher pay, which is where we were 10 years ago but we’re not there anymore," Governor John Bel Edwards said.

According to the Southern Regional Education Board— the average last year is just over $52,000. Right now, Edwards said we’re just shy of that.

“It’s not enough enough but it’s what we could afford to do this year. So, it was the raise I asked for, it was the raise the board of elementary and secondary education asked for, in terms of the formula they provided to the legislature. It was the raise we could get through the legislature, but as I mentioned, even with this raise, we still won’t be at the southern regional average, we’ll be about $1,000 short," Edwards said.

Teachers who spoke with Edwards said they’re grateful he took the time to hear them out on issues that are important to them.

“At this point it’s hard to keep teachers and also to get new teachers. So, we’re glad the governor is on our side and that sees the need for not only increases in salary for teachers and support personnel, but also for changes in the way testing is done and the way teachers are being treated in the system," Kathy Smith, with the Calcasieu Federation of Teachers, said.

“That is a yearly target, of course it’s going to be a moving target, because as the other states increase, so goes the average, so goes Louisiana now. Yeah we’re chasing the middle now, but at least we’re not last,” Teri Johnson, president of the Calcasieu Federation of Teachers, said.

While pay raise is always a hot topic, teachers at the round table said it isn’t their only concern— discipline and excessive testing were other topics that were brought up.

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