Carolyn Roy | News Editor
The Natchitoches Parish School Board unanimously endorsed a proposed new, simplified salary schedule that will see its employees get raises effective July 1.
At its meeting Tuesday, Supt. Dr. Grant Eloi said the plan reduces the number of schedules from 22 to five in what he considered a major overhaul. The five schedules are teachers; professional and non-administrative staff; child nutrition; school and central office secretaries; and paraprofessionals, bus drivers, aides and nurses. Employees will “max out” after 30 years. The salary schedule was last addressed 14 years ago.
Director of Business Affairs Lee Waskom said the schedule restores teachers back to qualifying years or only years taught with no consideration for some who were given years in the past.
Waskom and Eloi thanked everyone who worked on the schedule that took endless hours.
The board also unanimously voted to accept a relocation incentive ranging from $5,000 – $15,000. Eloi said it would be a true relocation and not be given to teachers moving from one school to another. “We are going to lengths to show the staff how much we value them,” he said by implementing the new salary schedule with raises and COVID-19 compensation.
The relocation fee will not be given to non-certified teachers who get certified since they are eligible for other stipends.
Eloi mentioned that the La. Legislature is also considering pay raises.
The board also unanimously adopted a one-time, COVID-19 payment that ranges from $500 to $1,500 for eligible employees.
It took considerable discussion for the board to adopt personnel matters. The first was to change the name of director of academics to director of teaching and learning. Ben Lagrone holds the position. Eloi said “director of curriculum” was a passé term and the new name is in line with academic changes. There is no additional pay nor change in job description.
The board adopted adding two new positions but the action did not come without concerns from some of the board members. The new positions are teaching and learning specialist and interests and opportunity specialist.
Eloi said that while ELA and math scores are “holding their own”, social studies and science scores are “low, low, low.” He has heard from principals and teachers that they need support in those areas. Data shows that students need multi-layers of support and these jobs will add that support. He said the changes model what research and other successful districts are doing. “These people will support teachers. We want to do what is working. This is how you see change. It’s another layer of district support,” Eloi said.
Board members Dorothy McGaskey and Tan’Keia Palmer had reservations and advocated that teachers could better use classroom help to deal with the “clusters” of students “who are falling through the cracks.”
McGaskey said there was a need for direct help in the classroom and thought hiring instructional specialists was designed to assist the teachers.
Palmer said teachers were already being helped and thought the new jobs were redundant.
Lagrone gave further justification for the new positions. He said that 12 schools in the system are in need of intervention according to the State and six are classified as CIR or Comprehensive Intervention Required. He said the State is saying that students are not learning as much as they are expected to learn and the system must do something differently. The focus is on whether students learning and if not, what can be done about it. He said research shows the most impactful element for students is a quality teacher.
He explained the process that includes early testing, analysis of data and analyzing needs. He said the new positions will give specific help to struggling students.
While McGaskey and Palmer had concerns, they voted with the other members to authorize the new positions.