Pay and step increases dominate school board meeting

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By Carolyn Roy

carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

Family Doctors

The school board meeting this week was a short one and the most important item was finding a better way to determine beginning pay rates and step increases for teachers. Director of Personnel Linda Page cited the example of the long-term substitute teachers, with bachelor’s degrees, whose beginning salary is $60 per day for the first 30 days. The daily rate then increases to $168.42. However, if they move to another position, they revert to the $60 rate. The system currently has 65 long-term substitutes according to Page. Page requested the board give Supt.

Dale Skinner the discretion to adjust the pay scale so the substitutes can keep the higher rate. Skinner asked that he have the authority to compensate teachers entering the system for their years of experience and degrees, especially if they fill a critical need position. Also, in a few cases, those who become principals would earn less than they did as a teacher who had additional duties for which they were compensated. Math and science teachers who are also coaches, would enter the system at a lower salary.

Some who enter would begin at the bottom of the scale despite previous experience. “We’d like to have the authority to hire good people and give them credit for experience,” Skinner said. According to Page, three previous long-term substitutes have passed the preliminary test for practitioners and are on track to get certified. Four others have become certified. Page will soon need to fill two school nurse positions.

She must hire one to replace a nurse who is retiring and another to care for five students with medical needs. Three are diabetics who use insulin pumps and two have tracheostomies. Board member Billy Benefield Jr., suggested initiating a labor market survey to determine salary and step increases should the board begin the search for another superintendent. He said it does not apply to Skinner but will prepare the board when it searches for the next superintendent. On another subject, Benefield asked for a review of the bus route optimizing software used by ECCO Ride, the transportation system.

Board member Eugean Garner reported that construction and renovations at Lakeview are about 50 percent complete, at Goldonna are near the “punch list” phase and at Fairview Alpha are nearly complete. Finance Supervisor Richard Foshee said the projects are on schedule and a meeting is scheduled in two weeks to review progress at the schools.

Reba Phelps gave a preliminary report on OpenGov, a financial information system. It is used by the Lafayette Parish School Board and allows citizens to review budget items online. It streamlines budgeting and leverages open data such as assets, expenses and income. The cost is based on a system’s budget. Phelps introduced the idea for board member Beverly Broadway who was not at the committee meeting Tuesday.