Pointe Coupee Schools to reopen after teachers and board agree on truce

Pointe Coupee Parish teachers expected to return to the classroom after dispute over pay raises

POINTE COUPEE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Pointe Coupee teachers who have refused to show up to work will be back in the classroom Thursday, Sept. 10.

The educators staged a “sick-out” in protest of the school board’s decision to delay their taxpayer-approved raises. Voters approved a tax hike earlier in 2020, providing more money to the school system for improvements and a $6,000 pay bump.

Teachers were under the impression the raise would be in effect for the 2020-21 school year, but the board voted in its last meeting for it to start in January of 2021. By doing so, teachers would only receive $3,000 for the current school year.

School board member, Anita LeJeune, says she had concerns about cash flow if the board were to pay the teachers starting this semester.

“If we pay them $6,000 between now and May, the end of school, then we begin the next school year with no tax money because we’ve used it," she said.

Board President Tom Nelson says those concerns have mostly been addressed, saying he has personally spoken to each member, guaranteeing the district can afford the raises.

“The money will be there to pay the teachers for this fiscal year,” Nelson said.

He says a resolution will be introduced during the next board meeting on Sunday, Sept. 27 that will allow the teachers to receive the full $6,000 by the end of the school year. He’s confident it will pass.

“I don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like at the end of the day, but before June 30 of 2021, all employees will receive the full amount of the pay increase,” he said.

That satisfies the frustrations of teachers like Clayton Chenevert, who has led the protesting efforts at Livonia High.

“We agreed to go back to work tomorrow because the president assured us he had enough support from the board, the teachers would get their full raise. It’s just going to have to show up on the next school board meeting,” Chenevert said.

The truce comes with a caveat though. If the board does not approve the resolution and the teachers do not receive the full amount, Chenevert says the protests will resume until the board changes its mind.

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