The St. Charles Parish School Board approved one-time bonus payments to all full and part time employees at the board's June 21 meeting.
Bonuses include a one-time payment of $1,000 to full time employees and $500 to part time employees. This one time bonus is in addition to the planned 5 percent teacher raise expected to be approved by the School Board at its July 5 board meeting.
Public school teachers in Louisiana will get a $1,500 a year raise and college faculty would get a 5 percent pay boost under a $152 million proposal by Gov. Kathleen Blanco, announced in early March. The raises – $1,500 for teachers and $500 for other school employees -- are viewed by state officials as the starting point as the state rebuilds after the devastating aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Currently, Louisiana ranks 44 out 50 in the country for average teacher salaries and the state ranks 35th in education spending per student.
In 2005, St. Charles Parish’s average teacher salary was $39,913, with St. John Parish coming in at $40,720. Jefferson Parish was higher than the two with average teacher salaries reaching more than $42,400. The 2006 average teacher salaries in St. Charles Parish is $40,728 a year.
In St. Charles Parish, the population was 48,000 pre-Katrina, and is now at 53,000. In St. Charles, the projected population growth in three years is to be near 60,000. St. John Parishes' population pre-Katrina was 43,000 and post-Katrina, 47,000.
Payments will begin this month and is financed through a rise in sales tax revenue in the parish. Total payments will equal approximately $2 million, said school officials at the Finance Committee meeting held on June 19.
The board is scheduled to officially vote on a five percent pay raise for all employees at the Board's July 5 meeting. This vote was delayed from the June 21 meeting because, according to school system's spokesperson, Rochelle Cancienne, some members of the board were late receiving the revised 06-07 budget and according to state law, members are required to receive copies of the budget 15 days before it is adopted. The budget is also required to be up for public viewing 15 days prior to adoption by the board.
“Of course we are delighted to recieve a raise,” said Rita Varvaro, a secondary math teacher at Destrehan High School. “We have not had a raise in five years and we have not had subbatical pay in 2 years,” said the high school teacher. She went on to say, “Destrehan High has lost a few good teachers because they felt they were under paid and hadn’t received a raise in 5 years.”
In previous years, St. Charles Parish has ranked first in average Louisiana teacher salaries. Recently, the parish has sunk to twelfth, dropping out of the top ten and encouraging officials to seek pay raises in an effort to get back into the top ten.
When a school district is not in the top ten, they risk losing teachers and having difficulty getting teachers to come to the parish, said some of the spectators present at the most recent finance committee meeting at Central Office.