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The Legislative Session Has Begun!

The Legislative Session began April 10th. It kicked off with John Bel Edwards’ final State of the State address. One of the first things he mentioned was the importance of passing a $3,000 raise for teachers and $1,500 for school support staff. This is an extra $1,000/$500 more than what is in the MFP that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) passed in March. Ultimately, the raise for teachers and school employees that is funded in the final legislative budget must match the amount allocated in the final MFP, which is the funding formula for Louisiana public schools.

This year, SCR 2 (Fields) is the legislative instrument for the MFP. The legislature can decide to pass the MFP as it currently stands, or they can vote to return the MFP back to BESE for amendments. The legislature cannot change the MFP, they can only vote yea or nay on SCR 2.

State Superintendent Cade Brumley testified before the House Appropriations Committee last week and the Senate Finance Committee this week to discuss his plan for teacher raises; the plan currently outlined in the MFP. Brumley wants the legislature to pass a $2,000 raise for teachers and $1,000 for support staff. Additionally, he wants the legislature to approve $60 million to give certain teachers a $1,000 stipend. This stipend would go to teachers in certain schools or subjects, or those deemed "high performing," to be determined by the local school board

The issue with this differential payment model is not only that it is inequitable, but also that it is not a pay raise. It’s a stipend. It isn’t guaranteed from one year to the next and it can be taken away for any number of reasons. Stipends will not give teachers greater financial security and therefore, they won’t help end our extraordinary staffing shortage. Plus, differential payment models like the one suggested by LDOE are greatly unpopular among teachers. According to a recent survey conducted by LFT, 76% of teachers support step increases above merit pay raises.

Despite modest salary increases in the last few years, 2007 was the last time Louisiana educators met the Southern Regional average. In the 2022-23 school year, the gap between the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) average and the Louisiana average teacher salary increased, notwithstanding the $1,500 pay raise received by Louisiana teachers.

In LFT's survey, more than 1,200 teachers recommended $60,000 as a minimum starting salary for beginning teachers and 1,500 recommended a range of $65,000 to $75,000 to retain experienced educators. According to data from the SREB, Louisiana and Florida are the only two states in the Southern Region that do not have a minimum starting salary, though Florida has proposed a $65,000 minimum salary this legislative session.

In the coming weeks, LFT will be tracking the pay raise, and hundreds of other bills that have the potential to impact you and your students. A lot will change over the course of the session as bills are amended, but here are a few of the bills that we are supporting right now:

HB 21 (Stagni) Authorizes school boards to permit a school bus operator or other employee who has no remaining extended sick leave balance to take up to 30 additional days of extended sick leave for maternal and child health.

HB 205 (Bryant) Would require that teachers receive extra compensation when they work outside of their job description. Teachers would be paid an hourly rate when they are participating in after school activities that involve students.

HB 348 (Jenkins) Changes the reporting requirements on teachers and staff who learn of a threat of violence or terrorism. This bill will help ensure safety of employees and students whenever they are threatened.

HB 375 (Carpenter) Will help local school districts implement best practices by requiring "high performing" charter schools to submit a written report sharing their practices with the local school district. This bill would authorize the school board to determine the frequency and the scope of the report.

✅ SB 18 (Price) Creates a new account for the accumulation of funds to pay for PBI/COLAs for retirees in perpetuity. This will help ensure that moving forward, retirees in TRSL, LASERS, LSERS and the La. State Police Retirement System will receive more regular cost of living increases.

SB 25 (Bouie) In New Orleans, the school board does not have the same power over its locally operated charter schools that other school districts have. This bill would require approval by the local school board before any charter school, including Type 3B, may act as its own local educational agency.

SB 71 (Bouie) Requires that learning pods be free, provide transportation and food services and requires that the governing authority of the school adopt a student fee policy and post it at the beginning of each academic year.

SB 86 & 126 (Fields) The Industrial Tax Exemption Program allows corporations to be exempt from Local property taxes. This Constitutional Amendment would ensure that the corporations would still have to pay their property taxes that go towards elementary and secondary education. If passed by the legislature, this would go to the voters for approval in October.

SB 134 (Jackson) Creates a tax credit for people who donate to "D" or "F" public schools and outlines how those schools may use their donations.

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