New tax to improve campus security in St. Helena Parish very narrowly avoids passing

Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 10:47 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2023 at 1:16 AM CST
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ST. HELENA PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Months after a student was killed in a deadly shooting at a St. Helena Parish school, a proposed tax to improve campus safety very narrowly avoided passing.


The proposed tax was to generate funds to better protect students across the district.

There were 1,712 votes cast in favor of the new tax, while 1,723 voters decided against the new tax, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office.

“I think our children deserve the best and this will give us the opportunity to provide that for them,” said Superintendent Dr. Kelli Joseph.

St. Helena Parish voters got the chance to decide on the new one cent sales tax and a new property tax during the state’s general election on Nov. 18.

The tax would have generated $1.7 million in annual revenue for the school district.

Part of the money earmarked for school safety would have helped the district secure entry points on campus, install perimeter fencing, install new security systems and hire school resource officers.

Two months after a student was killed in a deadly shooting at a St. Helena High School, school leaders are attempting to find new ways to improve security.

“Our children deserve a high-quality school system that shows them that the adults in their lives do care about them,” said Joseph.

The rest of the money would have gone toward two other issues that continue to plague the district, high teacher turnover and a lack of sustainable funding for academic programs.

Dr. Joseph said the money would have allowed the district to give teachers a pay raise, and keep them competitive with other neighboring districts.

The pay raise would have given certified teachers an extra $6,000, and non-certified employees $4,000. This would have put a new teacher’s salary at $47,000.

“What we just want to do is compete,” said Joseph.

St. Helena Schools faced opposition the last time they proposed a teacher pay raise that included a new tax earlier this year.

Dr. Joseph hoped they would gain more support this go around.

“This is all about servicing our children and giving them what they need to be successful,” said Joseph.

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