St. Charles Herald-Guide

School employees get raises

By Jonathan Menard - September 27, 2007

The parish school board's decision to "roll up" the millage will pay off for school employees, who will all receive significant raises after the board approved the measure in last week's meeting.

The blunt of the increase will be absorbed by full-time employees, with certified workers receiving a $3,500 raise and non-certified employees getting a $3,000 jump in salary. Also, there will be a one time payment of $1,000 for all full-time employees who complete the school year. Full-time workers include teachers, bus drivers, custodians and central office personnel, among others.

The pay raise was initiated in order for the school system to both attract and retain high quality employees. The State's Minimum Foundation Formula dictates that in order for the parish to maintain competitive salaries, the district must locally fund pay increases to keep up with what poorer districts receive in the formula.

Along with raising the pay of full-time employees, the board also decided to increase pay for part-time workers. The new pay schedule for part-time employees will include an hourly pay increase that will correspond to their jobs in the salary schedule. Therefore, whenever a pay increase is given to full-time employees, it will automatically increase the pay for part-time employees. These pay increases will be anywhere from .50 cents to over $1 an hour.

School Board President Clarence Savoie says that the pay increases have been in discussion for sometime.

"The board was in general agreement that we needed to give these employees a raise," Savoie said. "We looked at the parishes around us and what they were paying their employees and we knew our employees needed to be rewarded. We felt this was a good time to give our employees a substantial raise."

The raise was originally planned to go into effect before the beginning of the school year, but the board wanted to get complete information about what the increase would cost.

"We held our ground on the millage and we knew we would be in good shape with our budget this year," Savoie said. " I just want to applaud Superintendent Lafon for thinking about our employees and rewarding them for their hard work."

The full-time employee raises will cost the district $6.45 million annually, while the one-time increase will cost $1.9 million. Meanwhile, the part-time increase will have a yearly cost of $300,000. The part-time increase began this month, while the full-time increase will become effective on Oct. 20.

Both measures passed unanimously, though board member Al Suffrin abstained to voting because his wife, Debbie Suffrin, is a teacher in the district.