BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) -All but two Pointe Coupee Parish schools were closed Friday after teachers refused to show up in protest of the boards decision to not include the tax payer approved pay raises for this semester, rather have them begin in January.
Earlier this year parish tax payers approved a tax hike to fund a $6,000 teacher raise plus more cash for the school board for improvements.
In August, school board members voted to begin the pay raises in January, meaning for the current school year employees would only see a $3,000 raise.
“They pushed the vote through and voted $3,000 of the [6,000],” said Lucy Boley, one of the teachers at Livonia High School who refused to teach Friday.
Teachers went before the school board Thursday night to express their displeasure and have a dialogue with the board members about the decision, hoping to have them change their votes and include this semester in the raises. The meeting ended with no action though, leaving educators upset, feeling they are being shorted that raise.
“I feel like we were not heard,” Boley said. “I feel like they placated us with a meeting and never had any intention of listening to any information.”
According to several members of the school board the reason for not starting the pay increase this semester lies on the fact the new tax dollars will not be collected until January. If the teachers were to be back paid for the start of the school year Anita LeJeune said she worried it would create cash flow issues.
“If we pay them $6,000 between now and May, the end of school and then we begin the next school year with no tax money because we’ve used it,” LeJeune said.
Basically the way board members explained the pay schedule, 2021′s raises come from money collected from the previous year.
“So 2020 tax money that we will get in 2021 is going to take care of the tail end of the school year 2020 and the beginning of the 2021 school year,” she said.
Teachers like Clayton Chenevert say they were led to believe those raises would start this year though, not next.
“The school board really sold us on the fact that this time we would be getting a six thousand dollar raise, it would all be given to the teachers and it was pretty much sold in that way that it would start in August,” Chenevert said.
Now he said it is time for the board to honor its commitment.
“Sometimes you have to take a stand and that’s what I want my high school students to understand, sometimes you have to take a stand and do what you have to do to get your message across,” he said.
A message he said is loud and clear to those in charge, pay up or they will not be in the classroom.
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