One day after word of a possible teacher walkout hit the Capitol, Gov. John Bel Edwards appeared on the building’s steps to publicly urge House members to approve the school funding formula pushed by his administration.
Edwards joined members of the Louisiana Coalition of Public Schools who gathered on the Capitol steps to support his proposal, which was approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Their plan includes pay raises of $1,000 for teachers and $500 for school support employees and an additional $39 million in funding for the school districts.
Lawmakers, including Senate Education Chairman Blade Morrish, R-Jennings, and Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, remain confident the House will approve the funding formula.
The Senate already advanced the state school board’s proposal in a 37 to 1 vote. House Republicans have proposed an alternative to Morrish’s plan, including a $1,200 pay raise for teachers and $600 pay raise for support employees.
But their measure, included in the budget bill authored by Appropriations Chair Cameron Henry, does not include the additional $39 million in discretionary funding.
If BESE and the Legislature cannot agree on a funding formula, then the 2018 formula will remain in place. Any raises or funding increases approved would be a one-time stipend.
“If we don’t move the funding formula all the way through the process and match it up with an appropriation,” Edwards said at the press conference, “you can call it what you want, but it will not be a pay raise.”
Leaders of the state’s teacher unions also remain confident the funding formula will be approved by the full House. But if not, “we’ll take it to the ballot box,” said Larry Carter, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers.